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Tracking child abusers

User Stories from the knowledge front

It isn't more informants or harsher penalties that is helping Sweden track down pedophiles and child pornographers: it's new search technology.

The Swedish National Criminal Intelligence Service has implemented Convera’s RetrievalWare multimedia software to aid in its fight against the sexual exploitation and abuse of children. The technology will help identify new incidents of online criminal activity and gather clues into the activities of pedophiles and those who profit from the distribution of child pornography, according to a press release from Convera.

Using the solution, the Swedish police are said to investigate pedophile-related cases more effectively by comparing newly gathered pornographic images against a database of more than 300,000 images seized from computers and Web sites worldwide. When new images arrive at the Child Protection Unit, they are scanned into an archive and checked against similar images. Adaptive pattern recognition technology enables police officers to more easily gather clues from the photographs by searching images for underlying patterns in background objects, shapes and colors.

"The solution has freed up police officers to do more investigating and less cataloging and trawling through files," says Annethe Ahlenius, a detective inspector with the Child Protection Division. "Police officers are always chasing time and, in that respect more than anything, RetrievalWare has been a very good investment."

Prior to implementing the software, police were swamped with images, and had to check each new one manually against the archive.

"The problem with manual searching is that you're relying on someone's memory," says Ahlenius. "What happens if that officer misses something, or leaves the office? Everything they have learned goes with them.

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