Global Search for Child Exploit Victims

By Meaghan Gray, Toronto Police Service Published: 8 a.m. March 20, 2017

Detective Constable Amy Davey is sitting in a dimly-lit room staring at one of 25 computers glowing with the most horrific images of child sexual abuse that anyone can imagine.

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Law enforcement from around the world taking part in the Victim Identification Task Force hosted by Europe

Surrounded by 25 colleagues from 17 countries, this is where Amy stayed for 11 days, 10 hours a day.

As a member of the Toronto Police Service Sex Crimes Child Exploitation section, Davey was selected to attend the third Victim Identification Task Force (VIDTF) hosted by Europol’s European Cybercrime Centre (EC3), from January 28 to February 10, 2017, in The Hague, Netherlands.

For more than two weeks, the international group of investigators – all experts in victim identification – used the International Child Sexual Exploitation Database (ICSE) to upload series of child sexual abuse in an effort to identify victims and offenders.

As a result of a project conducted last year, Toronto was able to contribute a very large seizure of new material that no one had ever seen before. The material was uploaded to ICSE and the group of experts collectively work to identify some aspect of the series that can redirect the investigation to the police service of jurisdiction.

“It’s like having Google in real-life,” explained Amy. “Normally, when we’re trying to identify images we’re left using internet search tools to find logos, languages, music, furniture, food and drink items, anything that could pinpoint a location of where the child sexual abuse is taking place.  That could take hours, even days, working by myself but at VIDTF you just have to ask the person sitting next to you.”

During her time there, the team uploaded 290 new series and added 360 new images to previously identified files. As a result, seven victims were identified and rescued, not to mention the countless advancements made in investigations all over the globe.

“It is dedicated officers like Amy that are trying to give the children seen in these terrible images and videos a voice,” said A/Detective Sergeant Paul Krawczyk, the officer-in-charge of the Child Exploitation Section.  “The results of this working group prove that when we work together, we can accomplish great things.”

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