The first Virtual Global Taskforce (VGT) Board of Management for 2019 is meeting this week at the Australian Institute of Police Management in Manly, New South Wales.
The Australian Federal Police, a founding member of the VGT, is hosting the meeting, in recognition of the need to address the scourge of online child sexual exploitation and associated materials through national and international collaboration.
Minister for Home Affairs, the Hon. Peter Dutton, applauded the efforts of the VGT and AFP in bringing together member countries and agencies.
“The Australian Government is committed to preventing the online sexual exploitation of children in Australia, and by Australians overseas,” Minister Dutton said.
“In Australia, I announced the establishment of the Australian Centre to Counter Child Exploitation in March 2018, designed to bring together and harness distinct expertise from law enforcement, State and Territory police, industry, academia, and non-government organisations. But we must also recognise that this is a global issue, and collaboration is needed within and outside of Australia.”
Discussions at the meeting highlighted the significant increase globally in the number of arrests and the number of children requiring safeguarding from online child sexual exploitation.
National Manager Crime Operations, Assistant Commissioner Debbie Platz said that all attending member countries confirmed significant increases with no end in sight.
“Referrals into our organisation have almost doubled in the last year from 9,700 reports in 2017, to almost 18,000 in 2018,” Assistant Commissioner Platz said.
Prevention was also a focus of the meeting.
Current Chair of the VGT, Chief Superintendent Marie-Claude Arsenault, Royal Canadian Mounted Police said that “preventing offending is essential to safeguarding victims, so too is preventing re-victimisation of victims when indecent images are shared, and reducing the risk of other individuals developing a sexual interest in children through accessing indecent images.”
A number of priority areas were identified as a result of the meeting, including a need to leverage technological solutions to detect, block, and prevent the hosting of online child sexual exploitation materials.
Created in 2004, the VGT is an international law enforcement alliance dedicated to the protection of children from online child sexual exploitation and transnational child sexual offending. The VGT law enforcement members are supported by key partners within Industry and non-government organisations globally.
The following VGT members attended the meeting:
Australian Federal Police, Dutch National Police, Europol, Interpol, National Crime Agency, Royal Canadian Mounted Police, UAE/Ministry of Interior, US DHS Homeland Security Investigations, and New Zealand Police.