Child sexual exploitation and abuse (CSEA) is a deeply emotive and troubling issue, and in recent years we've witnessed the worrying emergence of a much more insidious version of the threat. Online CSEA is changing the scope and scale of offending – with the internet increasing the exposure of victims and offering a safe haven for offenders to access imagery and stream live abuse on demand.
The sophistication of the online CSEA threat and complexity of the response landscape calls for a re-think of the way we collectively respond.
With a view to further exploring how to enhance the collective response, we spoke to organisations across government, law enforcement, the third sector and industry to identify the challenges and find a path towards better protecting children.
Our research found the national response to online CSEA requires a re-think of the way government, law enforcement, technology companies and third sector organisations collaborate.
Across this complex landscape, we see an opportunity to enhance the way children are protected by improving the response in three environments: the dark web, the surface web and the physical world. To effectively impact these three environments, our research and experience suggest there should be an Online Harms Safety Centre (OHSC) to orchestrate the collective skills and capacity of organisations across the response landscape, allowing them to play to their areas of expertise throughout the end-to-end threat.
The focus of the OHSC would be organised according to these three threat environments, with the following objectives:
Disrupt the dark web webmasters, around whose services offenders congregate and share ‘tradecraft’, CSEA imagery and hints and tips on evading detection and arrest.
Direct proportionate and balanced regulation of the surface web, where paedophiles pose as young people to groom potential victims and exploit encrypted streaming services to view and share imagery and ‘on demand’ abuse.
Educate children and better prepare them for online interactions using preventative real-time technology and encouraging responsible online citizenship.
To ﬁnd out more get in touch with one of our experts today.