Project VIC demonstrates why identifying victims must be a priority
The number of children at risk from sexual exploitation is on the rise, yet many investigators do not have the time to give priority to the work that is needed to identify victims.
In our NetClean global police survey, we learnt that:
- Almost two in 10 police officers (17 per cent) said that identifying victims is not prioritised in their organisation
- More than half (56 per cent) said that they have too many cases to have time to work on identifying victims
- Two-thirds of respondents (63 per cent) said that they have too much material to go through to dedicate time to identifying victims
Despite the alarming figures, many police officers do recognise the benefit in victim identification. The challenge, as always, is allocating sufficient resource to handle a growing volume of evidence that is often time-intensive to analyse.
Responding to our survey, one police officer said that:
“Identifying victims is a huge part of what I feel responsible for. Although time is an issue, I will take all the time I need to find and identify victims if I feel and/or know they are out there. In fact, I just located six victims on a case and it was worth all of the time I put into it!”
No victim is left behind
Jim Cole, special agent and supervisor of victim identification at the Homeland Security Investigations Cyber Crimes Centre, recently talked about his experience in using Griffeye Analyze to assist with his work. Typically, the team handles 500,000 images a week: that’s over 25 million a year.
Rich Brown, Project Coordinator at Project VIC and ICMEC, shared his story with us:
“The paradigm shift to victim centric investigations started in 2011 and there is still work to be done.
“A victim centric approach is extremely important, as it will save children from horrific situations and environments. Also, if we concentrate on finding victims, we will not only find the child, but most certainly also the suspect.
“In order to carry out victim centric investigations the whole investigation team needs to be working together, and be proactive. The investigator needs to supply images of the scene and possible family members, so the forensic investigator has the ability to run comparisons against the case material to ultimately find victims. Today, many agencies are experiencing disconnects between investigative and forensic personnel. This gap in the process results in only focusing on finding possession evidence to hand over to prosecution.
“Project VIC, a global cooperation between law enforcement, non-governmental organisations and industry, aims to streamline law enforcement cooperation. Today more than 250 children have been saved from sexual abuse thanks to the initiative, which focuses on a victim centric approach of investigation.”