2005 International Law Enforcement Cybercrime Award
Announcement of Award Winner
TheSociety For The Policing Of Cyberspace (POLCYB), ispleased to announce the the winner of the 2005 International Law Enforcement Cybercrime Award:
PROJECT NAME: "Virtual Global Taskforce"
AGENCY: National Crime Squad for England and Wales
(Excerpt from winning submission)
WHAT IS THE VIRTUAL GLOBAL TASKFORCE?
The Virtual Global Taskforce is a global partnership between law enforcement, industry and child welfare organisations. The aims of the Taskforce are:
Investigations in the UK, and around the world, have shown that a purely reactive response to online child abuse is unsustainable. Such investigations are resource intensive, hampered by the fact that online abusers do not respect local or national borders, require a range of expertise and skills that are not readily available within law enforcement and fail to protect children adequately (as they only take place after the abuse has been committed). In recognition of these facts, a number of law enforcement agencies, led by the National Crime Squad for England and Wales, have come together to deliver a co-ordinated, proactive, international response to online child abuse.
WHO IS ON THE TASKFORCE?
The Taskforce currently comprises the National Crime Squad for England and Wales, the Australian High Tech Crime Centre, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, the US Department of Homeland Security and Interpol. Jim Gamble, Deputy Director General of the National Crime Squad for England and Wales is currently the Chair.
Plans are in hand to invite a number of national European law enforcement agencies onto the Taskforce.
The Virtual Global Taskforce works in partnership with industry, child welfare organisations and NGOs around the world. To date, the Taskforce has entered into formal partnerships with AOL, Bigpond, British Telecommunications, Microsoft, MSN and Vodafone. It also works closely with leading NGOs, such as NCMEC in the US and the Internet Watch Foundation in the UK, and with key child welfare and education organisations such as the NSPCC in the UK and NetAlert in Australia.
WHAT DOES IT DO?
The Virtual Global Taskforce delivers innovative crime prevention and crime reduction to prevent, deter and frustrate individuals from commiting online child abuse. All Taskforce initiatives are designed to be low cost, high impact.
The first Taskforce initiative was Operation PIN.
Operation PIN was launched in December 2003. It is a website that purports to contain images of child sexual abuse but which is, in fact, a law enforcement website. Individuals who enter the site and attempt to download images that they believe are of child abuse are informed that they have entered a law enforcement website, have committed an offence, and that their details have been captured and passed to the relevant national authorities. PIN was run in all four Taskforce territories - i.e. in Australia, Canada, the UK and the US.
PIN has captured the details of individuals from a number of different countries who were actively looking for images of child abuse. However, this is not the primary aim of this initiative. PIN is first and foremost a crime reduction initiative. Its real success has been in undermining the confidence of those who think that the Internet is an anonymous place where paedophiles can operate without fear of being caught.
The PIN website is currently being re-developed and will be re-launched later this year.
In January 2005, the Taskforce launched a new website: www.virtualglobaltaskforce.com. This site brings together educational and law enforcement resources from around the world and provides a wide range of information, advice and support. This includes information on what to do if you suspect that a child is at risk, if you see content on the Internet that you believe might be illegal and if you want to report suspicious behaviour online. The costs of building and maintaining the website are shared between all five members of the Taskforce.
The Taskforce is working in close partnership with industry and others to promote the website and raise awareness of child safety issues online. This means, for example, that if you are using MSN Messenger in the UK, in an AOL(UK) chat room, online with BT or Bigpond or surfing the internet using a Vodafone phone, you can find the Taskforce logo prominently displayed and, by simply clicking on the logo, be taken straight to the website. The ultimate aim is to deliver a reassuring, online, law enforcement presence. Nothing covert or intrusive. But simply a place where adults and children can go to for information, advice and support.
The website also sends out a clear message to those who use the internet to search for and share images of child abuse, or who go online to approach children with a view to "grooming" them for sexual abuse, that law enforcement is active online. The internet is no longer an anonymous place and those who commit crimes online will be held to account for their actions.
To date, we have received over 8 million hits on the website. And the Taskforce logo is being promoted right across the online environment, including in many of the bigger ISPs, search engines and chat providers. All promotion is provided free.
In addition to the above, the Virtual Global Taskforce plans to launch a number of new initiatives over the coming months. These include a "24/7" initiative (where Taskforce members "patrol" the Internet 24/7 to provide an immediate response to any urgent reports or requests for assistance) and a "Most Wanted" initiative (where images of paedophiles held by Taskforce members can be put online to identify existing offenders and deter potential offenders). The Virtual Global Taskforce will also be holding an international summit in the UK in November which will bring together industry and law enforcement from around the world to share ideas and identify best practice.
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