(CNS): The Royal Cayman Islands Police Service was instrumental in closing down child sexual abuse websites based in France and Russia that were previously unknown to authorities, as part of its collaboration with the UK charity, Internet Watch Foundation (IWF), during the course of an investigation here that saw a paedophile jailed for more than 12 years. The RCIPS said that since it partnered with IWF and began promoting the reporting portal, people have been using it to report abusive online imagery.
According to the charity’s annual report, this jurisdiction has made a significant contribution to fighting global online sex crime.
The UK charity, which is dedicated to the removal of online child abuse imagery, released its 2016 Annual Report this week and highlights a particular investigation by Cayman Islands police that uncovered two new websites with child sexual abuse material, and resulted in those websites being shut down and investigated as far away as France and Russia.
The websites were tracked when the RCIPS conducted a successful inquiry into allegations of gross indecency committed by air-conditioning technician Michell Anderson Garcia, who was convicted of various offences and sentenced to 12 years in jail.
During the investigation, the local police found multiple websites and material on Garcia’s phone, and the RCIPS analyst in the matter contacted the IWF for assistance. The IWF liaison assessed her report within 8 minutes of receipt and determined that one of the discovered sites, previously unidentified, was hosted in France and acted as a gateway site to another site containing Category A (the most serious offence category) images of 7-10 year olds. The IWF then alerted French-based organisations of the site, and within 4 days it was offline.
Another 16 sites reported by the RCIPS have also been actioned by IWF and shut down.
“This is the type of speed and impact that good international cooperation can have,” said Detective Superintendent Pete Lansdown. “The IWF’s assistance not only saves us valuable investigative time, it enables law enforcement globally to work together much more effectively to stop the circulation of these images. This contributes toward stopping the crimes of sexual abuse they depict.”
Joanne Delaney, the intelligence analyst who worked on the Garcia case, added, “By reporting that website, we were able to stop that site being used as a ‘gateway’ site. It has been incredibly satisfying for me to know that this referral had such a result.”
On 1 June last year, the RCIPS launched an initiative with the IWF and local media and community partners to host IWF reporting portals on various local websites, through which referrals about child sexual abuse imagery could be made. So far, 56 reports from the Cayman Islands have been received. Primarily these reports have been submitted by the RCIPS, but four reports were made anonymously by members of the public.
“A large number of people in Cayman appear to have visited the IWF portal, which we take as a positive indicator of the community’s wish to join international partners in order to remove child sexual abuse imagery from the internet,” Delaney said. “Having the IWF Portal available to the Cayman Islands provides us with a greater ability for all members of the community to be involved in combatting child sexual abuse online,” she told the charity in its annual report.
The IWF portal can be found here on CNS, the RCIPS website and many other local websites.