The University of Liverpool is part of a European consortium of child protection detectives and researchers that has been awarded more than £1million to tackle sex offenders who possess indecent images of children from the internet.
The funding package of £1.1million has been provided by the Justice and Home Affairs Division of the European Commission to develop the national tool for risk assessing suspects involved with the possession and distribution of indecent images of children – known as KIRAT (the Kent Internet Risk Assessment Tool).
Targeting offenders and developing victim identification
KIRAT is part of a Fighting International Internet Paedophilia (FIIP) project that focuses on targeting offenders and developing victim identification. It is used to risk assess people who view indecent images of children on the Internet, helping police to assess the level of risk posed by a suspect and the likelihood of that person becoming a contact offender – someone who commits sexual offences against children.
The EU collaborative project is led by Kent Police, working with a group of European partners – Estonian Police and Border Guard, Mossos d’Esquadra in Spain (the police force of Catalonia), Politie Rotterdam – Rijnmond (Rotterdam Police), Universitat de Barcelona , University College Dublin and the University of Liverpool.
Kent Police has one of the largest Child Exploitation Investigation Teams in the UK. In 2012, the team investigated more than 100 people for a range of offences from possessing indecent images of children to child rape. They protected 90 children in 2011/2012 and 100 in 2012/2013.
Detective Chief Superintendent Chris Hogben, the strategic lead for the FIIP Project, said ‘This EU funding will help us make crucial advances in the field of child protection and will enable us to identify suspects who pose a risk of committing contact sexual offences. This type of offending crosses many geographical boundaries, both nationally and internationally, so it is really important that all law enforcement agencies work together and risk assess suspects in the same way.’
Landscape has changed
DCI Matthew Long, who developed KIRAT and heads the Child Exploitation Investigation Team at Kent Police, said: ‘The landscape of indecent images of children investigations has changed significantly in recent years. As a team, we are working to identify victims, protect children from abuse, target offenders and risks assess suspects. KIRAT is an innovative tool and will help us as we tenaciously track offenders – wherever in the world they are – and bring them to justice.’
Professor Laurence Alison, a forensic psychologist from the Institute of Psychology, Health and Society at the University, leads the research team that helped develop KIRAT. He added: ‘KIRAT is a highly innovative technique and our research programme is playing a valuable role in safeguarding children by helping the police to track and bring offenders to account quickly.’
KIRAT is being used by 38 UK police forces, is supported by INTERPOL and supported by CEOP, the national Child Exploitation and Online Protection Centre which is dedicated to eradicating the sexual abuse of children.