Published: 11 October 2022 at 14:00
ARU researchers will work with Child Rescue Coalition to study online chat rooms
The Policing Institute for the Eastern Region (PIER), a research institute at Anglia Ruskin University (ARU), has joined with US-based non-profit organisation Child Rescue Coalition (CRC) to launch a new initiative to improve the worldwide response to the threat of online child sexual abuse.
CRC has received funding from online platform OnlyFans to launch project APOLLO, which aims to better understand the behaviour of online offenders, to help develop tools to protect children and support law enforcement investigations globally.
For the first time, academics at PIER will be able to use data secured by CRC from online chat rooms, to analyse conversations between offenders with a sexual interest in children. This will deepen understanding of the drivers and motives of offenders, how and where they interact, how they abuse and how they avoid detection.
Research from APOLLO will not only provide valuable insights for online platforms and regulators regarding the technology used to carry out the sexual abuse of children but will also help law enforcement organisations prioritise their investigations.
Simon Bailey, Chair of the Policing Institute for the Eastern Region, former National Police Chiefs’ Council lead for child protection and Director of Strategic Engagement at CRC, says this initiative will help researchers formulate and deliver critical insights to policymakers, regulators, and law enforcement officials around the world who fight against child sexual abuse.
CRC is a non-profit organisation that builds technology for law enforcement around the world to track, arrest and prosecute child sex offenders. During the project, CRC will be collaborating with PIER, which for the last five years has worked with law enforcement and key stakeholders to improve the policing and public protection response to the online threat of child sexual abuse.
Professor Sam Lundrigan, Director of PIER, says that the academic community has a critical role to play in child protection.
Professor Lundrigan said:
OnlyFans, the subscription social media platform which enables connections between creators and their fans, is providing a grant for $500,000 to CRC to help support the development of the APOLLO technology to combat the distribution of child sexual abuse material.
CRC’s powerful technology has been provided free of charge to law enforcement across 97 countries. Because of CRC’s tools, law enforcement has rescued thousands of children from sexual exploitation and abuse and arrested thousands of child sex offenders, often including those in positions of trust.
According to Carly Yoost, CEO and founder of Child Rescue Coalition, expanding the non-profit’s reach to include participation in research is crucial to their mission. Yoost said:
OnlyFans Chief Strategy & Operation Officer, Keily Blair, said:
For more information about Child Rescue Coalition, visit www.childrescuecoalition.org.