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Home Office unveils digital anti-child abuse tools


The Home Office has announced that three new digital tools are to be provided to police forces to help their detection of online child abuse.

They are aimed at improving the Child Abuse Image Database (CAID) and reducing the number of indecent images of children (IIOC) police officers have to view during investigations.

One is a fast-forensic tool to rapidly analyse seized devices and find images already known to law enforcement. It has the capability to process a 1TB drive in just 30 minutes compared with 24 hours previously.

The second is an image categorisation algorithm to assist officers to identify and categorise the severity of illegal imagery. It will sort up to 2,000 images per hour – compared with the current rate of 200 – from grade C to A.

It is hoped this will relieve investigators of the psychological pressures of viewing the imagery.

The third is a capability to detect images with matching scenes to help identify children in indecent images, using scene matching technology, in order to safeguard victims.

Game changing

Home Secretary Sajid Javid said: “This game changing tech will help us do this and will be vital in the fight against online child abusers.”

CAID was first introduced to police forces in December 2014 and currently holds13 million images, with the number growing on average by half a million every two months. The Home Office has invested £18.2 million into the programme since 2014, with the new innovations costing £1.76 million.

The Home Office is currently discussing with the senior judiciary and stakeholders on how machine grading can be used in future prosecutions to lessen the burden on officers.

National Police Chiefs’ Council lead for child protection, Chief Constable Simon Bailey said: “The improvements to the Child Abuse Image Database will enable us to catch more offenders, rescue more children from harm and reduce the pressure and trauma on our officers from having to review every image manually.”

Image: The head of the cyber forensics unit of the Metropolitan Police showed the Home Secretary the new equipment. From GOV.UK, Open Government Licence v3.0

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