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2003 International Law Enforcement Cybercrime Award
Announcement of Award Winner

TheSociety For The Policing Of Cyberspace (POLCYB), ispleased to announce the the winner of the 2003 International Law Enforcement Cybercrime Award:

PROJECT NAME:   "Childbase System"
AGENCY: National Crime Squad, England & Wales

(Excerpt from winning submission)

ChildBase System

The National Crime Squad of England and Wales has launched the most powerful image recognition computer programme in the world, using ground-breaking technology which enables them to link images of abuse to individuals with unprecedented efficiency and speed. The launch, on 25th July 2003 at the House of Lords was attended by many of our community partners in the United Kingdom and included:

  1. National Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Children (NSPCC) - who not only attended the launch, but gave a joint television broadcast with the National Crime Squad.
  2. Internet Watch Foundation (IWF)
  3. National Children's Homes (NCH)
  4. The Lucy Faithful Foundation
  5. The John Grieve Centre
While none of these community partners had the resources or expertise to contribute financially or technically to the project, they have always been and continue to be supportive of the project.

The system, known as ChildBase, is attracting much interest worldwide and is the result of three years research, innovation, dedication and commitment by a professional partnership comprising of the National Crime Squad (UK), SERCO plc (UK), and Imagis Technologies Inc. (Canada).

However, the original concept for the system came out of an idea from DC Sharon Girling, who identified the need following her involvement in Operations Cathedral and Ore, two of the world's largest investigations into the online activities of paedophiles. These operations were truly global in scope and represented the first worldwide response to this activity.

During those investigations, police had to manually retrieve, categorise, and log each individual image; a task so huge that investigators were frequently forced to simply give up, leaving thousands of images-each one evidence of abuse-un-catalogued and unused.

ChildBase will change all that. The programme will cross-reference and sort through hundreds and thousands of images in a fraction of the time it currently takes to do the same job manually. Furthermore, the programme enables investigators to compare recently seized images of abuse, about which little or no information is known, with a police database of limitless capacity containing images that have previously been analysed. ChildBase's software, developed with the Canadian company Imagis Technologies, will also help police determine whether pictures are old or new, enabling investigators to judge whether the abuse is still taking place and whether they should launch a search to identify the offender. Furthermore, the software uses facial recognition technology to help investigators identify both the victims and the offenders depicted in the imagery.

DC Sharon Girling has been at the forefront of combating child abuse and pornography on the Internet for the last three years, spearheading investigations both nationally and internationally. Her work rate and energy is phenomenal. She has given specialised evidence on many occasions to USA courts as well as managing to support and guide colleagues through complex, high-tech prosecutions.

At a recent international conference the UK's contribution in this field of investigation was highlighted - this recognition by the international community is praise indeed for the professional and dedicated approach by DC Sharon Girling.

The introduction and successful completion and launch of ChildBase is largely due to DC Sharon Girling. She has campaigned relentlessly to make the database fully functional, with facial recognition data available for other police agencies. It has only become a reality due to her dedication and commitment. She is a highly-professional skilled officer who has assessed the needs of all parties, and helped develop a system that will pave the way for paedophilic investigations for many years to come.

Her personal sacrifice and commitment goes way beyond that which could be expected and she continues with her drive and enthusiasm to create an environment where victims are given the best possible service and perpetrators are rooted out and prosecuted. Public recognition of her services would highlight her contribution and her efforts to bring together a coalition of willing partners to combat child abuse and pornography online.

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