Researchers help police in fight against paedophilia

Police Officer

Twenty-four police forces from across Europe have met at a summit in The Netherlands this week to sign up to a child protection initiative that was developed by a host of European partners, including the University of Liverpool.

Child protection specialists from across Europe met in The Hague for the launch of three tools that were developed under the Fighting International Internet Paedophilia project (FIIP), which is a project funded by the Prevention of and Fight against Crime Programme – European Commission – Directorate General Home Affairs’.

One of those tools is KIRAT; the Kent Internet Risk Assessment Tool, part of a one million euros EU collaborative project led by researchers at the University’s Institute of Psychology, Health and Society and Kent Police.

Risk assess

KIRAT is used to risk assess people who view indecent images of children on the internet. This helps police assess the level of risk posed by a suspect and the likelihood of that person becoming a contact offender.

Following the success of KIRAT, and other tools developed in the project, it is now being rolled out to all EU member states. The project involves a group of European partners – the University of Liverpool, Estonian Police and Border Guard, Mossos d’Esquadra in Spain (the police force of Catalonia), Police Unit Rotterdam (Rotterdam Police), Universitat de Barcelona and University College Dublin.

Vital tools

The consortium have since received further funding, from the Prime Minister’s innovation fund, to help roll the tools out in four countries outside of the European Union.

Professor Laurence Alison, Director of the Centre for Critical and Major Incident Psychology within the Applied Psychology Group, University of Liverpool, said: “It is my privilege to have worked with law enforcement agencies to develop such vital tools for detection and prevention of these crimes.

“KIRAT itself is likely to continue to evolve, as more becomes known about the risks that those who possess indecent images of children (IIOC) pose to children and the public. I look forward to developing further collaborative projects in the future.”

Proven method

Detective Chief Superintendent Tim Smith from Kent Police, said: ‘The internet has no borders so it makes perfect sense for police forces around the world to work together to target paedophiles.

“With all EU members using the same programmes it means that we are all using the same proven method to identify offenders and assess the risk they pose to children.”

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