Novel Strategies to FigHt Child Sexual AbusE and Human TRafficking Crimes and PrOtect thEir VictimS

    

Trafficking of human beings (THB) and child sexual abuse and exploitation (CSA/CSE) are two big problems in our society. Inadvertently, new information and communication technologies (ICTs) have provided a space for these problems to develop and take new forms, made worse by the lockdown caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. At the same time, technical and legal tools available to stakeholders that prevent, investigate, and assist victims – such as law enforcement agencies (LEAs), prosecutors, judges, and civil society organisations (CSOs) – fail to keep up with the pace at which criminals use new technologies to continue their abhorrent acts. Furthermore, assistance to victims of THB and CSA/CSE is often limited by the lack of coordination among these stakeholders. In this sense, there is a clear and vital need for joint work methodologies and the development of new strategies for approaching and assisting victims. In addition, due to the cross-border nature of these crimes, harmonisation of legal frameworks from each of the affected countries is necessary for creating bridges of communication and coordination among all those stakeholders to help victims and reduce the occurrence of these horrendous crimes. To address these challenges, the HEROES project comes up with an ambitious, interdisciplinary, international, and victim-centred approach. The HEROES project is structured as a comprehensive solution that encompasses three main components: Prevention, Investigation and Victim Assistance. Through these components, our solution aims to establish a coordinated contribution with LEAs by developing an appropriate, victim-centred approach that is capable of addressing specific needs and providing protection. The HEROES project’s main objective is to use technology to improve the way in which help and support can be provided to victims of THB and CSA/CSE. Moreover, the HEROES project will establish new innovative strategies that in the short, medium and long term will improve the way in which LEAs and CSOs carry out criminal investigations, assist rescued victims, and prevent the occurrence of these crimes.















Novel Strategies to FigHt Child Sexual AbusE and Human TRafficking Crimes and PrOtect thEir VictimS

Trafficking of human beings (THB) and child sexual abuse and exploitation (CSA/CSE) are two big problems in our society. Inadvertently, new information and communication technologies (ICTs) have provided a space for these problems to develop and take new forms, made worse by the lockdown caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. At the same time, technical and legal tools available to stakeholders that prevent, investigate, and assist victims – such as law enforcement agencies (LEAs), prosecutors, judges, and civil society organisations (CSOs) – fail to keep up with the pace at which criminals use new technologies to continue their abhorrent acts. Furthermore, assistance to victims of THB and CSA/CSE is often limited by the lack of coordination among these stakeholders. In this sense, there is a clear and vital need for joint work methodologies and the development of new strategies for approaching and assisting victims. In addition, due to the cross-border nature of these crimes, harmonisation of legal frameworks from each of the affected countries is necessary for creating bridges of communication and coordination among all those stakeholders to help victims and reduce the occurrence of these horrendous crimes. To address these challenges, the HEROES project comes up with an ambitious, interdisciplinary, international, and victim-centred approach. The HEROES project is structured as a comprehensive solution that encompasses three main components: Prevention, Investigation and Victim Assistance. Through these components, our solution aims to establish a coordinated contribution with LEAs by developing an appropriate, victim-centred approach that is capable of addressing specific needs and providing protection. The HEROES project’s main objective is to use technology to improve the way in which help and support can be provided to victims of THB and CSA/CSE. Moreover, the HEROES project will establish new innovative strategies that in the short, medium and long term will improve the way in which LEAs and CSOs carry out criminal investigations, assist rescued victims, and prevent the occurrence of these crimes.

General Information

Acronym HEROES
Project Number 101021801
Project Title Novel Strategies to Fight Child Sexual Exploitation and Human Trafficking Crimes and Protect their Victims
Starting Date 01/12/2021
Duration 36 months
Call Identifier H2020-SU-SEC-2020
Topic SU-FCT01-2018-2019-2020 - Human factors, and social, societal, and organisational aspects to solve issues in fighting against crime and terrorism
Budget EU: 4,999,500.00 € - BR: 1,680,000.00 € - Total: 6,679,500.00 €
Involved Countries Spain, Austria, Bangladesh, Belgium, Brazil, Bulgaria, Colombia, France, Greece, Ireland, Latvia, Lithuania, Peru, Portugal, Switzerland, United Kingdom, Uruguay.
Partners Type 5 Univ. | 2 SMEs | 3 RTO | 7 LEAs | 1 IO | 8 NGOs | 1 GO

Objectives

Prevention

To provide a variety of preventive measures to reduce THB and CSA/CSE crimes

To reduce the demand of services that may be provided by victims in both legal and illegal sectors

To reduce the risk of (re-)offending by better understanding the behaviour of abusers and potential abusers

Crime Investigation

To analyse possible involvement of organised crime groups implicated in THB and CSA/CSE in other crimes

To develop new approaches to investigate trafficking of human beings and CSA/CSE crimes

To address new threats of child abuse and coercion and extortion of victims that have escalated in the last years

To provide Law Enforcement Agents with effective means to detect, investigate and bring down open and hidden peer-to-peer networks and websites

Victim Assistance

Develop a set of holistic measures to ensure adequate THB and CSA/CSE victims' protection and assistance

To develop new approaches to investigate trafficking of human beings and CSA/CSE crimes

To develop new approaches to mitigate the impact on victims of THB and CSA/CSE and to reduce re-victimisation in the short and long term



Components


The HEROES project will address prevention through a mixed approach of technology and social action. To this end, HEROES will develop free open source applications that will help reduce the risk of becoming victims of human trafficking and increase the security with which children communicate through social networks. These tools will serve two purposes: first, they will raise public awareness about THB and CSA/CSE, and second, they will increase participation of different actors in society in the identification of potential victims and sources of THB and CSA/CSE.

The HEROES project will develop technological tools that cover the most important needs of LEAs: data gathering and analysis while embracing the very technical, ethical and legal challenges unique to fighting THB and CSA/CSE crimes. HEROES will apply proven techniques of Machine Learning (ML) to implement these tools, along with an innovative solution for the implementation of criminal investigations.

By focusing on prevention and developing technological tools for more effective investigations, HEROES project will positively impact victim assistance at four main levels: (i) reducing primary, repeated, and secondary victimisation, (ii) contributing to specialised training and specialised support, (iii) promoting victim support strategies focused on the specific needs of these victims, including the development of new practices within the justice system to avoid secondary victimisation, and finally (iv) the opportunity to build on project’s findings to promote better procedures and outcomes in assisting victims of THB and CSA/CSE crimes. The collaboration partner NGOs will work with government institutions, national and legal and human rights organisations to build support networks and to help ensure that the full effect of national laws, including remedies for victims, are brought into force.


Impact

The HEROES project will develop relevant contributions addressing the challenges of the "SU- FCT01- 2018-2019-2020" call. The three pillars proposed to combat THB, and CSA/CSE (prevention, investigation and victim assistance) will concentrate all efforts to provide solutions that integrate social, ethical, legal and scientific aspects. These efforts will be aimed at supporting the victims and their environment but will also relate to specific studies aimed at offenders and underlying problems. LEAs, Multi-Stakeholders and society will benefit from a set of methodological, strategic and technological tools that comply with the European Union guidelines,provide good practices for victim statement taking and support pattern recognition of THB and CSAM/CSEM crimes using artificial intelligence.

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Impact

The HEROES project will develop relevant contributions addressing the challenges of the "SU- FCT01- 2018-2019-2020" call. The three pillars proposed to combat THB, and CSA/CSE (prevention, investigation and victim assistance) will concentrate all efforts to provide solutions that integrate social, ethical, legal and scientific aspects. These efforts will be aimed at supporting the victims and their environment but will also relate to specific studies aimed at offenders and underlying problems. LEAs, Multi-Stakeholders and society will benefit from a set of methodological, strategic and technological tools that comply with the European Union guidelines,provide good practices for victim statement taking and support pattern recognition of THB and CSAM/CSEM crimes using artificial intelligence.

MORE DETAILS