UK police compiling national database of child sexual abuse images

The UK has announced it is creating a national database of child abuse images confiscated from paedophiles and sites that trade in illegal content.

Called the Child Abuse Image Database (CAID), it will enable the authorities to conduct more efficient investigations into abuse.

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The need to classify images and identify victims is becoming more challenging as the number of pictures depicting abuse online continues to grow. With many images likely to have been duplicated and circulated previously, the CAID will allow police officers to categorise new images that could lead to the identification of new victims.

Mike Penning, the minister of state for policing, said that the CAID will play a key-role in stamping out the "despicable crime of online child sexual exploitation."

"The outcomes will be life-changing, and in some cases life-saving," he said. "That is how important this database is."

The development is part of a larger international effort dubbed Project Vic, which aims to classify images globally.

Richard Brown, part of the International Centre for Missing and Exploited Children that is co-ordinating the project, confirmed that the two initiatives would use the same protocols to allow images to be transferred more easily.

In an interview with the BBC, Mr Brown said that Project Vic would become increasingly effective as more countries join the seven nations already signed up.

"It is groundbreaking for law enforcement, tool providers, non-profits and industry to all stand together and agree on the need to standardize the approach to such egregious crimes," he said.

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CAID is being constructed by NetClean, Hubstream and L-3 ASA and should be completed by the end of the year. Aside from helping to track down online abusers, it has been estimated that the project will save the authorities more than £7.5 million by improving efficiency.