Europe's police agency, the Europol, has launched a new web page that displays objects featuring in child sex abuse images to try find perpetrators and victims, the media reported on Thursday.
Europol hopes details like a logo on a bag or a shampoo bottle may alert someone who can then contact police by an anonymous tip-off or social media, reports the BBC."We have eyes and ears across the whole world," explains Steven Wilson, the Scotsman who heads Europol's cybercrime unit. "These are normally secretive types of investigations. But we have exhausted all our leads, so this is a last resort. We need the public to help us collect pieces of the jigsaw puzzle."
Pictures flash up on the screen inside a high-security ops room. Most of the materials the cyber-detectives seize are too disturbing to share. They have chosen two photos, each blurred to obscure the child's identity, to demonstrate how the mundane items appear in the scenes of abuse.
The first shows a young girl wearing a multi-coloured jumper. Her bottom half is bare and exposed to the camera. She is being groomed to take graphic pictures of her genitals. In the shot one can see a plastic shopping bag. The webmasters have zoomed in on the logo and shared it on the website, in the hope someone will recognise it.
Wil Van Gemert, Deputy Executive Director of Europol's operations department, told the BBC: "We're not just talking about family members or a neighbour, but if someone can tell us which country it comes from, there's our lead."
Twenty images at a time will go up on the website, Stop Child Abuse. The first selection includes a ram or unicorn logo on a tiny blue and white polo T-shirt, an orange pamphlet, a medicine bottle behind a baby lying on a changing mat.