£25m policing boost for global child safety bid

An international research alliance that seeks to safeguard vulnerable children has been boosted by a record investment in cross-border policing.


Global crime-fighting body Interpol will receive the biggest private funding injection in its history to better combat growing sexual exploitation and abuse of children.

The £25 million deal is funded by the Human Dignity Foundation, which has worked to protect children’s rights for 20 years.

Funding will equip front line police with the skills, data and insights they need to more quickly identify and rescue children at risk and bring more perpetrators to justice.

The University of Edinburgh-based Childlight Global Child Safety Institute will play a key role in the process, producing data to inform policymakers of the scale and nature of the problem. It will also provide authorities with advice to tackle it.

Global research

The announcement comes after Childlight produced global research suggesting the lives of more than 300 million young people each year are affected by online exploitation and abuse.

This latest investment over seven years will be matched by Interpol and other partners. It is hoped the deal will encourage others to join together with funding, data and expertise to fight this growing problem.

The £25m will support a recent Interpol resolution to work more effectively against child abuse. The funding will help provide police with a stronger evidence base and operational response through training, mentoring and access to data.

It follows many months of engagement with Interpol Executive Director Stephen Kavanagh, who leads the body’s global response to serious crime.

The new funding will enable all 196 Interpol member countries to help those suffering exploitation and abuse more effectively, with all of the member states able to access, share and act on data to rapidly identify offenders.

Connecting countries

An Interpol database, which holds nearly 5 million images and videos, connects 68 countries and has so far helped identify nearly 38,000 victims worldwide – at a rate of 15 identifications every day.

Using image and video comparison software, the database lets investigators instantly make connections between victims, abusers and places. It also avoids duplication of effort by flagging  images that have already been identified in another country.

Human Dignity Foundation Chair Dr John Climax said: “The sexual exploitation and abuse of children is a global health emergency prevalent in every country, and growing exponentially. Police in every country must have the means to fight it.

“Now is the time for the world to work together and provide an immediate and comprehensive public health and law enforcement response, because children can’t wait.”

Game changing

Childlight CEO Paul Stanfield said: “Our data has identified that many front line police are too hamstrung by a lack of resources to receive data and act on it effectively.”

Childlight estimates that 13 per cent of the world’s children have been victims of non-consensual taking, sharing and exposure to sexual images and videos. Some 12 per cent of children globally are estimated to have been subject to online solicitation.

The Human Dignity Foundation has so far provided Childlight with £25m to produce data that helps expose the scale of child exploitation. This data is being shared internationally to make better evidence-based decisions, said Mr Stanfield.

Related links


Human Dignity Foundation

Photo credit: Stewart Attwood. Left to right: Paul Stanfield, Dr John Climax and Stephen Kavanagh.