PRESS RELEASE - Child sexual abuse: new guidelines for first responders

News - 18 Nov 2022

Today, Friday 18th November 2022, marks the European Day on the Protection of Children against Sexual Exploitation and Sexual Abuse, an opportunity to raise awareness on sexual exploitation, the sexual abuse of children, and the need to prevent such acts;

The exponential growth in online child sexual exploitation and abuse material (CSEM) is a significant challenge for European law enforcement agencies. For officers responding to potential victims of CSEM, this means they need to be equipped with the necessary skills and training to swiftly act in the best interests of the child.

To assist these first responding officers, a new set of training guidelines have been published today on the occasion of the European Day on the Protection of Children against Sexual Exploitation and Sexual Abuse. This toolkit is the result of a collaboration between Europol’s European Cybercrime Centre (EC3) and the European Cybercrime Training and Education Group (ECTEG) in the framework of the GRACE project.

The guidelines will equip first responding officers with the necessary knowledge to effectively handle delicate situations that take place at a victim’s close whereabouts, such as their home or school, often hidden from the eyes of the public.

The guidelines are prepared in a way that encompasses the unified standards that these officers can use in their daily work, equipping them with relevant information on how best to respond if they came across a child they believe is being subjected to sexual abuse.

The restricted version of these guidelines will be embedded into the ECTEG’s eFirst project, as part of the knowledge base that every law enforcement officer should be aware of, regardless of their field of work.

A public version is available for download here 

About the authors

GRACE (Global Response Against Child Exploitation) is an EU-funded Horizon 2020 project that aims to equip European law enforcement agencies with advanced analytical and investigative capabilities to respond to the spread of online CSEM that will help safeguard victims and prosecute offenders. GRACE will be running until November 2023 to apply proven technologies to referral and analysis process while embracing the technical, ethical and legal challenges unique to fighting child sexual exploitation. GRACE is leveraging resources already in place at Europol and participating EU Member States aiming to provide results early, frequently and flexibly – watch the GRACE video.

Europol is one of the 22 organisations across 14 countries in Europe that have come together to deliver GRACE. Its Innovation Lab is coordinating Europol’s participation in this project, while supporting numerous EU-funded projects with an advisory role. The European Cybercrime Centre (EC3) was set up to strengthen the law enforcement response to cybercrime in the EU and thus to help protect European citizens, businesses and governments from online crime. As a form of cybercrime, child sexual exploitation is one of the EU’s priorities in the fight against serious and organised crime as part of the European Multidisciplinary Platform Against Criminal Threats (EMPACT).

ECTEG is the European Cybercrime Training and Education Group, an International non-for-profit organisation funded by the EU Commission. ECTEG comprises of participants from European Union Member States and candidate countries' law enforcement agencies, international bodies, academia and private industry.

ECTEG’S eFIRST is a first responders e-learning tool that focuses on essential IT forensics and cybercrime, available in English and translated with adapted content in several EU languages.

For more information about these guidelines:

  • For law enforcement: Reach out to Europol’s European Cybercrime Centre
  • For the general public: Reach out to Europol’s Press Office

For more information about GRACE, visit project website at https://grace-fct.eu or follow the project’s progress on Twitter @grace_fct_eu and LinkedIn gracefcteu.

GRACE has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 Research and Innovation Programme under Grant Agreement Number 883341.