Three revolutionary new tools will be rolled out to improve the capability of the Child Abuse Image Database (CAID), in a huge boost to bring child sexual abusers to justice and safeguard victims.
The Home Secretary Sajid Javid has announced forces across the UK will have access to new tools, which will speed up investigations of online child abuse and limit the number of indecent images of children (IIOC) police officers have to view.
CAID is a single database of IIOC which enables UK law enforcement to work collaboratively to safeguard children and bring people to justice.
The new tools to be phased in following successful trials are:
- a fast-forensic tool to rapidly analyse seized devices and find images already known to law enforcement
- an image categorisation algorithm to assist officers to identify and categorise the severity of illegal imagery
- a capability to detect images with matching scenes to help identify children in indecent images in order to safeguard victims
The Home Secretary was also shown tech demonstrations of the new capabilities.
Home Secretary Sajid Javid said:
Vile predators who are creating, viewing or sharing indecent imagery of children are constantly adapting their tactics to evade capture. We must move at the same pace and evolve to ensure we catch these paedophiles, bring them to justice and protect vulnerable victims.
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 from December 2014. There are currently 13 million images on CAID and the number grows 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 fast-forensic tool will allow a rapid analysis of a device against images on CAID, which will significantly free up police time. For example, with the new tech a 1TB drive would take just 30 minutes to process, when previously it would take up to 24 hours.
Officers currently grade up to 200 images an hour from grade ‘C’ to ‘A’ for the most extreme form of IIOC. The image-categoriser will sort these before officers have to see them and see up to 2,000 images an hour graded. While police officers will have to look at the images it is hoped this is the first step to use computers to relieve investigators of the psychological pressures of viewing the imagery.
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.
The third innovation will help identify victims using scene matching technology in indecent images of children.