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New technology set to help child abuse victim -

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PETER CAVE: While police have recently had some well-publicised success tracking down the victims
of child pornographers, the grim reality is, they say, they're overwhelmed by the millions of
pictures of abuse circulating online.

Part of the problem is that the vast majority are old images.

But now there's a new hope from a computer system that could sort through 70 per cent of those
pictures and videos almost as soon as they come to light and help police find victims sooner.

Queensland Police have been involved in developing the software and Annie Guest spoke to the man
who will oversee its first trial, Detective Superintendent Peter Crawford.

PETER CRAWFORD: Police all over the country and indeed all over the world seize thousands, and
indeed hundreds of thousands, of images of child exploitation every day.

The big challenge for police is that in seizing all that volume of material, how do we identify the
kids that appear on these images which are new images that are perhaps kids that are being abused
in our own backyard?

And the real challenge is to rule out or to remove from that group of seized images the very vast
majority of images that have been around on the internet for a long time. What we want to know
about is the new images.

ANNIE GUEST: Well, Superintendent Crawford, can you tell us about this new technology that will
help you identify which images are new?

PETER CRAWFORD: Yeah, Microsoft has done some really good work over the last few years in
developing a program called the Child Exploitation Tracking System, and the Queensland Police have
been working with them over the last couple of years to look at adding the image management
capability to their existing systems. And it's that new image management capability that we think
will deliver some good results for us.

ANNIE GUEST: Well, we know that this image management system doesn't work on face to face
recognition, so how will it be effective?

PETER CRAWFORD: It really works on identifying a unique fingerprint, essentially, in simple terms,
for each image. And then whenever the system sees it, the officer who's viewing those seized images
no longer has to look at that image again.

ANNIE GUEST: And how much time will this save police?

PETER CRAWFORD: Well, some of the trials that are happening through work that's being done over in
Canada shows that you can achieve up to 70-plus per cent reduction in viewing of images.

And see, there's two real objectives out of this. One is to give use a better chance of identifying
child victims from the mass of seized material, and the second objective out of this approach is to
reduce the times that police have to sit down and look at the same child exploitation images over
and over again.

ANNIE GUEST: Well, indeed we know that one policeman had to look at more than a million images to
come up with the recent breakthrough of saving 17 children worldwide.

PETER CRAWFORD: Yeah, that's correct, and that work had to have been done manually. There's no
automation available to assist with that. So the situation is that through very good work and
diligent work, 17 kids have been identified from images that we've seized and they've been removed
from situations of harm.

But the sad part about that is that had we had the available automation and the Child Exploitation
Tracking System capability earlier, I believe that there's many, many more kids in there that we
could process and find.

ANNIE GUEST: There are reports that some jurisdictions can't even manage to look at this material
because of the increasing volumes they're receiving. Is that right?

PETER CRAWFORD: I think it's physically impossible because of the volume. The reality is that all
jurisdictions are struggling to cope with the very vast amounts of seized images every day.

ANNIE GUEST: People hearing that information would wonder whether these crimes are escalating and
are beyond the control of law enforcement agencies around the world.

PETER CRAWFORD: That's a good point. It's certainly in our experience the extent of it does appear
to be increasing and I think that whilst we will continue to arrest people on a daily basis all
around the country and all around the world, I think the issue of prevention - you know, the
parents knowing and understanding the technology and being able to protect their children - about
children knowing themselves, how to keep themselves safe when they operate online. I think these
prevention and education measures are equally as important as the investigative tools that are
being developed here.

PETER CAVE: Detective Superintendent Peter Crawford from Queensland Police speaking to Annie Guest
in Brisbane.