Child victim identification expert wins Child Protection Week award

As part of this week’s Child Protection Week Awards, Paul Griffiths of Task Force Argos has been recognised for his work in child victim identification, including the rescue of over 150 children subjected to horrific and degrading sexually-based crimes.

The Child Protection Week Awards acknowledge the dedication, hard work and commitment of individuals and organisations who work toward the protection of children and young people in Queensland. Paul received his award in the Professional (Government) category at the ceremony this afternoon.

Currently Paul heads up the Victim Identification Unit within State Crime Operations Command’s Task Force Argos. The team provides a crucial link in the process of locating offenders and identifying at-risk children. The team reviews seized material and provides advice and assistance in prioritising targets and identifying victims.

Originally a police officer in Greater Manchester Police in theUnited Kingdom, Paul was one of the first investigators in the world to realise that while prosecuting those responsible for the distribution and creation of child abuse images was vital, identifying the children featured in these horrific images was of critical importance.

 “In the early days of investigating child exploitation material, investigators were focused on finding those responsible for these images and prosecuting them. Paul was part of a movement that thought beyond this and recognised that at the very core of these images were children who needed to be located and removed from these abusive and tremendously dangerous situations.

“But this was never an easy thing to do. These individuals became craftier and more skilled at masking the location of these images. Paul became an expert at finding small details in images (like a unique type of timber used by only one manufacturer in the world to make furniture) which helped him eventually locate a child who had been put through a particularly traumatising ordeal. He set the benchmark for work in this area,” Detective Superintendent Cameron Harsley of State Crime Operations Command’s Child Safety and Sexual Crimes Group said.

Paul worked in the Abusive Images Unit inManchesterbefore he moved to the Paedophile Online Investigation Team (POLIT) at the National Crime Squad inLondon. He then went onto play a crucial role in forming the Child Exploitation and Online Protection Centre (CEOP) and the Victim Identification Team there in 2006.

Paul first developed ties with Task Force Argos while working with Greater Manchester Police but strengthened these ties during his time with CEOP when the agencies worked side by side on Operation Achilles, a two-year operation that led to the arrest of 22 members of a highly secretive online paedophile network (six men currently serving life terms in US jails and one man serving life in the UK) and the removal of 60 children across the world from sexually abusive situations.  

Formerly the Chair of the Computer Facilitated Crimes Against Children group of Interpol’s Specialist Group on Crimes Against Children (2004-2008), Paul is now the current Chair of the Child Victim Identification Group with the same agency and has worked in Task Force Argos since 2009.

“Paul has been a large part of the development of the Australian National Victim Image Library (ANVIL) which is currently being rolled out across the country. ANVIL is a sign ofAustralia’s commitment to combating these atrocious crimes and its implementation will guarantee a unified approach to managing child exploitation material and the investigation of these crimes.

“The protection of children is what drives these investigators who work tirelessly to locate those who perpetuate this insidious industry. Since being with Argos, Paul’s work has led to the rescue of over 80 children from harmful situations, 35 of these were from Australia and 19 on our doorstep, in Queensland. It is a significant award and I can think of no better recipient,” Deputy Commissioner Ross Barnett, Specialist Operations said.

 Child Protection Week Chair, Kelly Bucknall said the message of Child Protection Week is “Protecting Children in everybody’s business – play your part.”

 Anyone with information which could assist police with their investigations should contact Crime Stoppers anonymously via 1800 333 000 or crimestoppers.com.au 24hrs a day.

Crime Stoppers is a charitable community volunteer organisation working in partnership with the Queensland Police Service.

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