NCA takes helm of international online child sexual abuse taskforce

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The National Crime Agency (NCA) has again taken over as chair of the Virtual Global Taskforce (VGT), the international alliance dedicated to the protection of children from online sexual abuse and other transnational child sex offences. 

There are currently 12 law enforcement members who make up the VGT Board of Management, including the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP), who yesterday handed the chair over to the NCA.

“We have enjoyed the honour of chairing the VGT for the past three years and look forward to supporting the NCA as the new chair. The strength of the VGT hinges on all of our countries working together toward common goals. Despite the challenging times of the pandemic, the VGT’s strong partnerships resulted in joint efforts toward the protection of children and the apprehension of offenders. There is no question that this work will continue under the strong guidance of the NCA” stated RCMP Chief Superintendent Marie-Claude Arsenault, outgoing VGT chair. 

Incoming chair, NCA Director General NECC, Rob Jones, said: “This is a really exciting opportunity for the NCA to build on our existing partnerships with law enforcement and NGOs to help us tackle one of the most prominent threats facing the UK, and the rest of the world right now. 

“The child sexual abuse threat readily crosses national borders, as technology means children can be targeted online from anywhere in the world. Unfortunately, we also see offenders travelling overseas to commit contact abuse so this collaborative approach is absolutely crucial.

“Over the next three years we will maximise every opportunity afforded by the VGT, including sharing intelligence assessments with members to target overseas offenders and using our collective expertise to help shape our individual responses.”

Rob Jones hosted the VGT meeting yesterday for the first time. The group discussed new research initiatives, such as an assessment into child sexual abuse dolls and the role they play in sexual offending. They also examined some of the biggest technological and legal challenges facing law enforcement at the moment, and discussed potential solutions to overcome them. The health and wellness of police personnel working in the area of online child sexual exploitation remains an ongoing focus of the VGT. 

Rob added: “There are already some really positive initiatives underway by the taskforce which I’m looking forward to seeing come to fruition. On top of these, I think it’s so important that we seek new ways to collaborate on our work with industry partners, to continue to create barriers for offenders. We’ll also look at how we can create greater resilience in children through education, for example by equipping parents with the information they need to spot abuse, report it, and support their children. 

“Thank you to the RCMP for their tenure as the VGT chair. Moving forward, I know we will continue to work together to deliver some really innovative work to protect children all over the world.”