Inspector Mangesh Tyagi, a police officer since 1994, is seasoned and knows his way around the world of crime, but he had an eye-opening stint this month. He was among the Delhi Police personnel who attended a three-day training programme where US law enforcement officers shared their knowledge on entering the ‘deep’, ‘dark’ realms of internet to prevent online child abuse. After the classes, the officers were asked to pass on the knowledge to colleagues.
“We were not properly aware of the latest technology, but got to know about the latest methods of criminals and how they are looking at digital mediums to target children, who are exposed to technology at a very young age these days,” says Tyagi.
The Delhi Police Special Police Unit for Women and Children (SPUWAC) organised the training programme in collaboration with Data Security Council of India (DSCI), and International Centre for Missing and Exploited Children (ICMEC).
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Officers from the Florida Department of Law Enforcement and Louisiana State Police shared their insights into the challenges of investigating cases of online abuse, collection of evidence, forensics and investigative tools. Additional DCPs, ACPs, inspectors as well as newly recruited officers attended the training programme, says Varsha Sharma, Deputy Commissioner of Police, SPUWAC.
“Nowadays, criminals have become tech-savvy and some of them first target children through internet and then harass them after getting to know minute details of their activities. In the sessions we had with the US officers, we learned a lot of new tools, including new technology, on how to handle such cases. We were also taught about working on various file sharing websites,” she adds.
The US officers also shared latest software to crack and curb cases of online child abuse. ICMEC has developed the software in collaboration with the FBI, other law enforcement agencies in the US and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
A senior police officer who attended the training programme says, “This software is quite advanced and can track online predators; how they are accessing child pornographic images, where the images have been circulated, and from where it was uploaded. They can lead you to the IP address from where the abuse might be happening.”
Sundari Nanda, Special Commissioner of Police, Women Safety, Airport and Modernisation, said, “Many of the crimes against women and children are happening in the online space. We have to up our game when dealing with such criminals… For instance, if a girl visits a police station and says she is being stalked on Facebook and the officer doesn’t know about the social media platform, what will the girl do? The DSCI that approached us with the idea and we were quite happy to partner with them.”