Conference to combat online child sexual abuse

Published: 20 November 2017 at 15:13

Blue light on a police car

Norfolk Constabulary and Anglia Ruskin focus on the soaring rate of IIOC cases

Leading figures from government, police, the third sector and industry will meet in Norwich this week to examine new ways of tackling the soaring rate of online child sexual abuse. 

Jointly hosted by Norfolk Constabulary and Anglia Ruskin University’s Policing Institute for the Eastern Region (PIER), the two-day conference on 22-23 November will discuss new approaches to investigation and prevention at a time when police are dealing with unprecedented numbers of offenders viewing indecent imagery of children (IIOC).

Since 2013 there has been a seven-fold increase in cases being referred to the National Crime Agency’s Child Exploitation and Online Protection (CEOP) Command.  Law enforcement agencies across the UK are arresting on average 400 men every month for viewing indecent images of children and are safeguarding 500 children. 

This is putting significant pressure on the criminal justice system, and the conference will act as a call to arms to public, private and third sector stakeholders to come up with innovative partnership approaches to the investigation and prevention of this crime and the harnessing of new technologies to combat it.

Amongst the speakers in Norwich will be experts from the National Crime Agency, EUROPOL, the Crown Prosecution Service, the Internet Watch Foundation, the forensics industry and Norfolk Constabulary, as well as expert academics from five UK universities.

Simon Bailey, Chief Constable of Norfolk Constabulary and NPCC lead for Violence and Public Protection, said: 


“Every month law enforcement agencies across the UK are arresting unprecedented numbers of offenders for viewing indecent images of children, but the number of referrals continue to grow. 

“This demand is placing unsustainable pressures on all those involved in the criminal justice system, so the time has come to start a meaningful conversation about how the threat of IIOC can be addressed by alternative means. This conference intends to act as the catalyst to start the debate.” 

Nick Alston CBE, Chair of the Policing Institute for the Eastern Region (PIER) at Anglia Ruskin University, said: 


“Given the volume of cases and developments in encryption, the challenges of investigating and prosecuting IIOC offences are profound. So too are the risks of not taking firm action, particularly when it involves harm of the most vulnerable of victims. Together, these factors put a premium on understanding and preventing the offence through the widest possible means. 

“This conference will explore these issues with the objective of identifying where further research and knowledge sharing is needed to inform both policy and effective responses from the police, prosecutors, social media companies and internet service providers – and perhaps society as a whole.”

Details of the conference, the programme of talks and the biographies of the speakers is available here