Background items in abuse images key to cracking child sex cases - Europol

Updated: 
NETHERLANDS/

Child abuse investigators are urging the public to turn detective and identify household items in the background of explicit images which could prove vital clues.

Europol has published 20 chilling pictures cropped from sex abuse images and zoomed in on everyday items including a shampoo bottle, children's clothing and even a shower.

The European Union's police force took the unusual step in a last-ditch bid to crack the cases for which it said "every other investigative avenue" had been exhausted.

So little is known about the images that investigators are unclear where in the world they originated but Europol said two victims were recently identified after food packaging and waste containers in the background were recognised.

The agency said: "We are convinced that more eyes will lead to more leads and will ultimately help to save these children."

Rob Wainwright, executive director of Europol, said: "The Victim Identification Task Force held at Europol has repeatedly shown the significant possibilities of rescuing victims of child abuse through experts working together analysing abuse images.

"In many of these cases the key breakthrough has been established through a small piece of information such as identification of objects in the background of the image that provide a vital clue to investigators.

"This innovative project seeks to use the global reach of the internet to allow the public to contribute to this investigation process and to play a real part in the global prevention of child abuse. Remember, your help can provide the one piece of information that leads to the rescue of a child."

The public are urged to visit www.europol.europa.eu/stopchildabuse where they can submit information anonymously.

Europol are hoping to trace the origin of the objects and will then pass the information to local police forces.