Child sexual abuse material is regularly found on computers at work. Police officers have also reported an increase in the number of child sexual abuse cases – and the victims are becoming younger and the crimes more violent.
The “NetClean Report 2015: Eleven Unbelievable Truths” shows that three in four police officers (76%) say that they have worked on cases involving child sexual abuse material on work computers within the private sector. In comparison, over half of investigators (58%) found similar material on work computers in the public sector.
“It is much more common for people to use their work computers to look at child sexual abuse material than many of us would believe,” says Christian Berg, CEO of NetClean. “As many as two people in one thousand watch child sexual abuse during working hours.
“While it may appear strange for people to do this at work, many people actually find their work computer to be the only truly private computer they own. It is not shared with their spouses or children, it is often a laptop and they are the only person who uses it. Paradoxically, this makes them feel more secure to use it, even if it’s for viewing illicit content.”
The NetClean research also found that the material in circulation is becoming increasingly severe with nearly half (43%) of police officers saying that they have noticed an increase in terms of severity in the last three years. In light of this, it is widely acknowledged that the victims are getting younger and the material is becoming more violent.
The report surveyed a total of 368 police professionals from 28 countries. Of those surveyed, eight in 10 respondents reported a significant increase in the volume of child sexual abuse material being circulated online compared to previous years. This correlates with the statistic that an overwhelming majority (97%) of law enforcement professionals expressed that their workload has become more demanding, primarily as a result of handling more cases and more data.
Fredrik Frejme, director and head of NetClean, adds: “More and more people are realising that there are ways to find the perpetrators and stop their networks from branching out. The technology on hand makes it easier to disseminate material, however it also gives us the tools to find and stop it. In my eyes, the real heroes are those with indefatigable motivation, who work their way through images and films showing things that we, ‘normal’ people, could never believe to exist in this world.”
Among other key findings is the fact that advanced mobile and video technologies make it easier for perpetrators to create, share and view child sexual abuse material.
* Mobile phones and videos are becoming increasingly common in the investigations.
* More and more material is being shared via social media and many of these are produced by the children themselves. An increasing amount of child exploitation images are created from social media such as Stickcam, Omegle and Oovoo.
* Increasingly, the suspects are using basic video capture software to create the digital videos. Police officers also report a rise in self-made videos, created on Skype chats.
The public and key authorities do not acknowledge the full scale of the problem in their community. Added to this is the challenge of TOR and Darknet, which continues to fuel the spread of child sexual abuse material online.
* Eight in 10 policers officers (83%) find that the public and government are unaware of the scale of the problem in their community. Only a few of the cases make it to the media.
* Two-thirds (64%) believe the current legal system is not well equipped to deal with child exploitation crimes, either because it’s outdated or due to limited possibilities for international cooperation. Many investigators also consider the sentences for child sexual abuse crime to be too lenient.
* Two-thirds of police officers (63%) say that anonymisation technologies such as TOR and Darknet are one of the major challenges when it comes to identifying and arresting perpetrators.
Many investigators do not have the time or resource to give priority to the work needed to identify victims and perpetrators.
* Nearly two in 10 (17%) say that identifying victims is not prioritised in their organisation.
* More than half (56% ) feel that an overload of cases means police officers don’t have time to focus on victim identification. Additionally, two-thirds (63%) of police officers say they have too much material in each caseload to have enough time for victim identification.
* In comparison, 34% say that they have too much material to go through to have time for identifying perpetrators, with 43% reporting too many cases to handle for such tasks.