Demand for child sex abuse material is at an all time high, with more than half of all explicit content being hosted in Europe. Several high profile cases, most recently the conviction of Mark Bridger in the UK for the murder and abuse of five-year-old April Jones, have brought the issue into the public consciousness again.
Along with the higher volumes of material being distributed, experts say the victims are getting younger – including toddlers and babies. Head of Interpol’s Crimes Against Children Unit, Michael Moran, attributes this to the fact that younger children are less able to expose their abusers. He says: “pre-speech children cannot disclose, pre-speech children can’t tell on you basically”.
In June 2012, the European Union and United States launched a Global Alliance – with the aim of improving international cooperation in efforts to track down and catch offenders and to help the victims of such abuse.
Alongside this, an EU directive on combating the sexual abuse and exploitation of children is due to come into effect later this year across all member states.