Meeting Of Interpol Specialists Underway

September 30, 2014

[Updated] The 32nd meeting of Interpol Specialists Group on Crimes Against Children got underway this morning [Sept 30], with Premier Michael Dunkley saying that Bermuda is “proud to be the venue for discussions on a matter that all our communities care deeply about.”

The Interpol Specialist Group on Crimes against Children [ISGCAC] is an international multi-disciplinary working group dedicated to preventing the abuse of Children, and 31 countries of the 45 member countries are present at the meeting, with close to 150 delegates having registered.

In welcoming the meeting’s attendees, Premier Dunkley said, “I have looked through the various subjects you will be discussing over the next four days, and I just want to commend you for what you are doing.

“There can be nothing more important than protecting the safety and lives of our children. If we succeed in that, we are doing much to make this a better world.

“It seems to me that vigilance, understanding and cooperation are essential to your success and that why this gathering is so important – sharing experience, sharing insights, reporting new developments. It is all about building relationships and joining together for common cause – the only way we can succeed going forward.

“Bermuda is not immune to crimes against children.

“To prevent them, we are working to expand vigilance, understanding and cooperation. In that regard let me take this opportunity to thank all the helping agencies, including the Department of Child and Family Services, the Coalition for the Protection of Children, the Women’s Resource Centre, the Centre Against Abuse, SCARS and the Family Centre.

“You are involved in something very important, something that is good. Your work can make the difference in many lives, across many communities. On behalf of Bermuda, I wish you well in your deliberations.”

The Premier’s full statement follows below:

Your Excellency, Commissioner…good morning.

And to our special guests, welcome to Bermuda.

As hosts for this 32nd meeting of Interpol Specialists Group on Crimes against Children, Bermuda is proud to be the venue for discussions on a matter that all our communities care deeply about.

I have looked through the various subjects you will be discussing over the next four days, and I just want to commend you for what you are doing.

There can be nothing more important than protecting the safety and lives of our children. If we succeed in that, we are doing much to make this a better world.

The fight against child trafficking, the search for a global approach to missing children, the focus on understanding sexual offenders, the pitfalls within international cooperation, the need to support for sex crime investigators – all these agenda items and more speak to the broad and complex challenge you face.

I was particularly interested in the many cybercrime subjects scheduled for discussion. Clearly the advent of the Internet has added to the complexity of preventing crimes against children, and the potential scale of those crimes.

It seems to me that vigilance, understanding and cooperation are essential to your success and that why this gathering is so important – sharing experience, sharing insights, reporting new developments. It is all about building relationships and joining together for common cause – the only way we can succeed going forward.

Bermuda is not immune to crimes against children.

To prevent them, we are working to expand vigilance, understanding and cooperation. In that regard let me take this opportunity to thank all the helping agencies, including the Department of Child and Family Services, the Coalition for the Protection of Children, the Women’s Resource Centre, the Centre Against Abuse, SCARS and the Family Centre.

The Government has joined with community organizations, urging parents to get interested in the online activities of their children. We’re doing that because we see parents as the first line of defense against online predators.

Through the courage of complainants and the commitment of our own Bermuda Police Service, increasing numbers of these cases have been are exposed and successfully prosecuted.

We are also working to educate parents and children on appropriate behaviors and what can be done in cases where offences are committed.

The Ministry of National Security is also responsible for the Department of Corrections and is charged with ensuring that sex offenders receive the psychological intervention required to reduce the risk of re-offending.

Locally, we have long had challenges maintaining an appropriate complement of psychologists within the Corrections system, but I am pleased to report that progress has been made.

We now we have two psychologists on staff and they are fully engaged in this critical aspect of rehabilitation.

Ladies and gentlemen, I want to close by saying you are involved in something very important, something that is good. Your work can make the difference in many lives, across many communities. On behalf of Bermuda, I wish you well in your deliberations.

Thank you.

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Update 7.43pm: A group photo and remarks delivered by Governor George Fergusson and Police Commissioner Michael DeSilva have been added below.

In the photo below sitting in the front row are from left to right, Mr. Paul Griffiths, Chair of Conference [Australia], Premier of Bermuda and National Security Minister Michael Dunkley, Governor George Fergusson, Mr. Michael Moran, Assistant Director Human Trafficking & Child Exploitation [INTERPOL], Mr. Robert Shilling, Coordinator of Operations, Crimes Against Children, Human Trafficking & Child Exploitation [INTERPOL] and Commissioner of the Bermuda Police Service Mr. Michael DeSilva.

Standing in the back row from left to right are Shadow Attorney General Mr. Michael Scott, Senator Jeff Baron, Junior Minister of National Security, Inspector Mark Clarke, Bermuda Police Service, Dr. Lawrence Ellerby, Forensic Psychologist [Canada], Mr. Jon Peacock [New Zealand], Mr. Daniel Szumilas, German Federal Criminal Police and Ms. Chantal Zarlowski [France].

32nd Meeting of Interpol Specilaists Group on Crimes Against Children

Governor George Fergusson’s remarks follow below:

Mr Griffiths,Mr Shilling, Premier,
Distinguished Ladies & Gentlemen

First, and above all, Welcome. It is a real honour for us here in Bermuda that you have come here. This may be a small island. But it has had over several generations an important role, among other things, in using its mid-Atlantic location as a bridge for Transatlantic conferences on serious issues, from the meeting of Prime Minister Winston Churchill and President Truman in 1945 onwards. That Transatlantic bridge is in evidence again this week, with this Conference. And this time the bridge has gone right round the world, with participants from 42 countries and observers from more.

It is a small island, and a spectacularly beautiful island, as I hope your impressively packed schedule will let you see at some stage. But despite its remoteness and size it is very connected to the rest of the world for good – we are one of the top insurance, and especially re-insurance, centers in the world – but we share some of the bad things too. Bermuda is definitely not spared the scourge of abuse against children. We have as much interest as any part of the world in constantly improving our child safeguarding regimes and our measures against crimes against children.

Over the 31 previous meetings of this Group, I am aware that it has grown in size and in the number of countries taking part.

It will also have grown, to an even greater extent, in the scope of the issues it has to look at. To headline just three:

I noticed that on Friday Dr Cooper of the University of North Carolina will speak on the increasing overlaps of different types of child sexual exploitation. I am sure some of these will be types only identified since this Group’s first meeting. Others will only have begun to happen at all during that time frame. There is a new realization over recent decades of the many types of crime against children:

  • sexual exploitation is obviously not new, but it now has taken on new forms.
  • economic exploitation is definitely not new, but the world is more aware of it. And it has acquired a new international angle in the form of trafficking.
  • neglect, and violence against children within the home; and bullying in schools, all of which I think people have become more aware of.
  • and systematic abuses in conflicts.

Secondly, the scope of your work has been changed by technology. I know that many of you will have used the opportunities on offer yesterday to update yourselves with the new technology which must ceaselessly be developed to let you try to stay ahead – and to link with each other to do so.

But the technology itself has created new forms of crime against children, perhaps to a greater degree than in other forms of crime. There is not just the explosion in child pornography, where the internet has given vast new opportunities for abuse. But areas like cyber-bullying, where the extent of abuse is only just becoming apparent, have produced new ways in which victims can be made miserable and in some cases have their lives ruined. This is something where children are particularly vulnerable and which presents a challenge to legislators as much as to law enforcers.

And third and last, the scope of your work has changed by the belated awareness of the non-stereotypic nature of many of these crimes, particularly to do with sexual abuse. Perhaps this has come as less of a surprise to police officers, but I think it has been a shock to the wider public, who had thought that these offences resulted from the weakness or cruelty of certain types of individual. It is now clear that the most surprising institutions and that every kind of person – rich or poor, old or young, stable or chaotic – can be perpetrators, or victims.

In respect of the sexual abuse of children, I would like to take this opportunity strongly to make one plea. That is, to commend you to encourage members of the general public – especially anyone involved in working professionally or voluntarily with young people, but so far as possible everyone else too – to go on the growing number of good courses on child protection and awareness of abuse.

There are many good reasons to do this: to improve the identification of children who may be subject to abuse and thereby to protect them. But there can also be an element of sensible self-interest on the part of organisations, who may be able to reduce risks potentially affecting their very existence, by making abuse less likely to happen or spotting it if it does.

These are weighty matters which you are here to discuss. They go to the roots of our society. Many must be disturbing even to experienced practitioners. They touch on social and personal issues, morality, high technology used for low purposes, the ugliest forms of gratification and straight old fashioned acquisitive crime.

You have not taken on an easy task. But I hope here in Bermuda you will combine important professional development with enough relaxation to take away good memories of a spectacular place – and perhaps a realisable plan to come back somehow, some time.

I wish you all well in your vitally important work. And I have the honour now to declare the Conference – Open.

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Police Commissioner Michael DeSilva’s remarks follow below:

It appears that this is a year of milestones. This is the 32nd meeting of the INTERPOL Specialist Group on Crimes Against Children. Slightly older is INTERPOL itself, celebrating 100 years of international policing cooperation. The Bermuda Police Service, likewise, celebrates 135 years of policing with the community this year.

It is indeed an honour and a privilege to host this important, international event, particularly as we are one of the smaller jurisdictions represented here today. And I am particularly grateful to the Bermuda Government for lending its support to the Bermuda Police Service and enabling us to provide part sponsorship.

The BPS relationship with INTERPOL spans decades, and recent examples of our engagement include: Operation Lionfish – an INTERPOL-led operation targeting maritime trafficking of drugs and firearms by organized crime groups across Central America and the Caribbean; sexual assault and other investigations onboard Bermuda-registered cruise ships in international waters; RED NOTICES that have led to the capture of a murder suspect in the US and his successful extradition to Bermuda, and a new investigation that is only days old and involves ATM skimmers, a first for Bermuda.

Our investigators already have been connected through INTERPOL to other Caribbean law enforcement agencies who have uncovered similar activity and lines of enquiry are opening up. And those are only the cases that we can talk about openly.

Bermuda is the poster child for the platitude that, “the world is growing smaller.” Not because we are such a tiny Island, but because the development of new technologies which link us together reduces distance between us and makes the world smaller, more connected. And in the examples I just gave, Bermuda connected with the law enforcement communities in countries like France, Singapore and Japan as if they were next door.

So if law enforcement can figure out the benefits of internet communications, just imagine what the criminally-minded can dream up. Think about how criminals are making the world smaller through the use of technology and connecting with each other to enjoy economies of scale, wider distribution markets, greater access, more supply streams and avoiding detection.

Crimes against children are examples of all of these. These tend to be local crimes with many being committed in the home or within the family. But there are a number of areas where there is an international component, including internet crimes of distributing child abuse material, direct contact and abuse of children through social networking sites, travelling sex offenders and child trafficking.

This means that Law Enforcement Officers have to act locally, but think globally. Today’s criminals do not respect neat and linear country boundaries within which to operate. Nor are they opposed to the concept of international cooperation. The law enforcement community must expand its thinking beyond role and territory.

Starting at home with sister agencies and sharing information and resources, the effort must then extend to the region where communications networks are established to transmit timely information to the people that need it, and then everything must plug into the global effort of identifying international trends, tracking the most wanted wherever they may try to hide, and preventing crimes against children before they happen.

But law enforcement isn’t enough. No country can arrest its way out of this problem, or any other crime problem. Strong child protection legislation must give children the voice they don’t have for themselves and it must deny the criminal use of legitimate communications technology.

But legislation isn’t enough, either. No country can legislate itself out of this problem, or any other social problem. The key lies in finding ways to make potential victims less likely to be victimized, and to make offenders less likely to offend. Legislation and prosecution must be part of a larger strategy that combines enforcement with prevention and rehabilitation.

These crimes represent a significant challenge for law enforcement agencies around the world. They require highly specialised skills and expensive training and equipment to tackle. The strength of this Specialist Group on Crimes Against Children is that you have the combined wisdom of 183 delegates representing 35 countries. You have enough brain power in this room to solve global warming.

So I invite everyone here over the next few days to use this opportunity to continue the joined up work that has been a feature of these meetings for many years. International cooperation and the development of effective counter measures are the keys to our success. Each of us should strive to accomplish three things at least while we’re here:

Firstly, put faces to names. There is no better aid to effective communications than a personal relationship with the person on the other end of the phone. For some of you, like Jimmy, you’ve been around for a long time and you know everyone. For others, this is an opportunity to make new friends.

Secondly, listen – and borrow with pride. There is no need to re-invent the wheel in this business, especially when criminal finances are seemingly endless, and police budgets are woefully finite. If you hear an idea about something that might work at home – borrow it, modify it, take it home and practise it.

Thirdly, in order for others to listen, you must share your ideas. Even when it seems really obvious, you never know who in the room hasn’t thought of that idea yet. Don’t be afraid to speak up, and you just might save someone hours of paperwork.
So: Meet, listen, share.

And if there’s any time left – please enjoy the beauty of our Island home. I understand that this meeting has never been held in the Caribbean or North America before. I’m afraid to tell you that you will come to regret the decision to come to Bermuda first. You will wish you had started at the other end, and worked your way UP!

Despite our shortcomings and our own law enforcement challenges, Bermuda has much to offer and much to give. Bermuda is, indeed, another world and our people are our treasure. I hope you will enjoy our hospitality. Welcome to our home.

Thank you.

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  1. more than enough says:

    Now this is an appropriate event for these two ministers to attend!