INNOVATE UK funded project will develop AI tools to prevent and combat child exploitation

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Kush Wadhwa | Chief Executive Officer

Date: 11 October 2019

Innovate UK has funded Project CESIUM, led by Trilateral Research in partnership with Lincolnshire Police and NWG Exploitation Response Unit to advance risk assessment practices in public and private sector organisations by applying machine learning techniques to the analysis of big data to prevent and combat child exploitation. The project has been launched on Friday 4th of October 2019.

We are committed to developing systems and processes that support law enforcement and safeguarding organisations to improve their overall service and safeguard the vulnerable. This is an exciting and forward-thinking initiative, leveraging artificial intelligence in an inter-disciplinary environment to co-design new technology in a manner that embraces good practices in ethics, privacy and data protection” says Kush Wadhwa, Director at Trilateral Research.

Through the use of co-design methods and privacy-by-design, Project CESIUM will develop algorithms to identify risks relating to child exploitation including vulnerability to sexual exploitation, and wider criminal exploitation which includes, although not exclusively, county lines and gang violence.

Currently, law enforcement agencies operate mainly in response to the perpetration of serious and harmful events upon children. There is a widespread need to better understand risk and develop better early intervention strategies.

The National Crime Agency report and the Children’s Commissioner recognise that the true scale of children and young people being abused and exploited is difficult to determine and remains a clear intelligence gap. We do not know the real number of those affected and a large number of young people remain hidden without any support. (Intelligent Assessment. County Lines Drug Supply, Vulnerability and Harm 2018).

The Children’s Commissioner for England in 2018 warned that up to 30,000 to 50,000 young people could be affected in Britain by county lines only, without taking into account other types of child exploitation (State of Children’s Rights in England 2018, Briefing 4: Safeguarding Children)

The Project CESIUM will be a use case empowering STRIAD®, Trilateral’s cloud-based data-driven risk assessment platform, with disruptive algorithms. STRIAD platform is easily accessible, adaptable and scalable and will boost cooperation, allowing organisations to pool data in an ethical, secure and privacy-considerate manner, enabling ground-breaking analysis, rapid identification of risk and increase opportunities for early interventions to reduce harm.

To ensure that STRIAD platform supports use cases that are effective and fit-for-purpose, Trilateral Research has engaged with over 25 potential users in law enforcement and community safety partnerships, one being the project partner, Lincolnshire Police, who will join in the co-design process, and will be early adopters of the new solution.

The project is also supported by NWG Exploitation Response Unit – a charitable organisation formed as a UK network of over 14,500 practitioners who disseminate information down through their services, to professionals working on the issue of child sexual exploitation (CSE) and trafficking within the UK.

Child exploitation is both a crime and morally repugnant and we must do everything within our power to catch and punish the criminals responsible as well as protect those most vulnerable to becoming their victims. I am proud that Lincolnshire is, once again, at the forefront of innovative work in this area” says Marc Jones, Police and Crime Commissioner for Lincolnshire.

Child sexual exploitation has been recognised as a national threat, with other threats such as the criminal exploitation of children, including county lines activities. The NWG has supported professionals tackling child sexual exploitation since 2009 and is committed to ensuring the learning from tackling that form of exploitation is applied to address other forms of exploitation. We are delighted to be involved in this project, recognising the vital role technology can play in supporting professionals to safeguard children and disrupt exploitative behaviour” says Sheila Taylor MBE, CEO at NWG.

Project partners

Trilateral Research – Project leader

Lincolnshire Police – End users and trial partner

NWG Network, Exploitation Response Unit– Expert Advisors within child exploitation, supporting and validating project outputs

For more information please contact our team.

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