INHOPE | What is 'Trace an Object'?
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What is 'Trace an Object'?

'Stop Child Abuse – Trace an Object’ is a crowdsourcing campaign by Europol that seeks information from the public to support investigations in child sexual abuse and child sexual abuse material (CSAM). The most innocent-looking cues can sometimes help crack an unsolved case.

Child Sexual Abuse Material (CSAM) is the evidence of a crime. This evidence contains lots of clues about the abuse which can be used by investigators to identify victims and perpetrators and bring the child into safety.

'Trace an Object' is used by Europol to create more investigative leads in cases where other investigative avenues have been exhausted. Censored images of objects or clothing which appear in the background of CSAM are posted on their website and the public is requested to share what they know about them.

How successful is 'Trace an Object'?

Established in 2017 by Europol, the Stop Child Abuse – Trace An Object initiative has yielded the following results (November 2023):

  • Almost 28,000 tips have been sent in via the general public.
  • Investigators were able to identify a country in 217 instances.
  • 26 children, victims of child sexual abuse, have been identified and removed from harm.
  • 5 offenders have been identified and prosecuted.

Europol indicate the specific kind of information they are looking for, often relating to the country or region where the items originate from, and information can be submitted anonymously be the public. These tips are handled by Europol’s victim identification team, who then share the information with law enforcement in the country where they suspect the abuse took place. An investigation can then be pursued in the relevant country.

Following Europol’s example, in March 2021 the Australian Federal Police launched their own version of the Stop Child Abuse initiative focusing on the Asia Pacific region. Their images can be viewed here. here

See if you can help by identifying anything from their current list of items here.

What is 'Trace an Object'?
23.06.2021 - by INHOPE

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