» Report from Arthur Troop Scholarship

En rapport från Liz Berglund

Youth, Technology and Virtual Communities Conference 
Bond University, Gold Coast, Australia

This year I was one of the lucky police officers around the world that was awarded the Arthur Troop scholarship, via IPA. In my application I specified that I would like to attend a conference in Australia, hosted by Task Force Argos at the Queensland police, and held at the Bond University at the Gold Coast. The conference is all about crimes against children. As my main topic is to investigate travelling sex offenders I thought that this conference really would fit into my daily base work.

On the 23rd of April I boarded the plane from Stockholm, Sweden, to Brisbane, Australia. A long journey that took 37 hours. A 12 hour long wait in Bangkok was the worst part of it. Anyhow, I reached Brisbane on the 25th of April at noon and was met by a colleague from Task Force Argos, Queensland Police. He kindly transported me to my hotel at the Gold Coast, about 1 hour drive north of Brisbane.

The conference started on Tuesday morning, 26th of April. It was held at Bond University. Almost 400 delegates where present. Not surprisingly, most delegates came from Australia. Apart from Sweden, a few other countries, like USA, Belgium, Germany, New Zeeland and Thailand where represented. Most of their delegates where speakers during the conference.


The very first speaker was Alicia Kozakiewicz. She is a victim as well as a Victim Ambassador from the US. She told a gripping story about how she, at the age of 13, became a victim of Internet luring. She got her very first computer and started chatting to her friends. Alicia’s parents always told her to be cautious while on the internet. Eventually she got in contact with a boy, her own age (she thought) and with the same interests as herself. She was normally a shy girl but he made her feel seen. She also felt very safe sitting in her own room in her parent’s house.

After about 8-9 month’s she agreed to meet the boy. One night she sneaked out of the house. She was just going down to the intersection, where she could still see their house. Suddenly a car came and the driver quickly got her into the car. He took her to Virginia, which is a 5 hour drive from her home. He kept her in the cellar, put a dog collar around her neck, chained her to a bed and raped her. Fortunately she was rescued by FBI after a while.

Alicia started educating children, families, teachers, law enforcement, governmental and social agencies, talking about her own experience. She is the founder of “The Alicia Project”, which is all about Internet safety and awareness education. Alicia’s Law is a revenue source in the US for law enforcement units that combat child sexual exploitation.
You can learn more about Alicia at www.aliciaproject.org or find alicia project on Facebook.

Think globaly / act localy

Another very interesting case study was brought to the delegates by Alain Remue from Belgium. He gave a presentation about Marc Detroux who kidnapped, tortured and sexually abused six girls between 8-19 years of age. The case started in 1995 when Detraux kidnapped two girls. The girls stood on a bridge, waving to cars. Suddenly they were gone and no one saw them again. In August 1995 two more girls disappeared. They were at a show and after that they just disappeared. In May 1996 a fifth girl disappeared and in August a sixth girl disappeared.

All the girls disappeared in different parts of Belgium and no one thought of linking the cases together.
After the last girl disappeared a few witnesses came forward. The police got quite a few names and one of them, Marc Detroux, had been sentenced earlier for sexual abuse. The police questioned Detroux and some other people. Three days after the interview Detroux came back and told the police that he would give them two girls. The police was confused as they were only looking for one girl. The local police went to Detroux’s address but did not find anything. They brought Detroux with them and he showed them a special room in the cellar. There the police found the two girls. One of them was the missing girl from May 1996 and the other the missing girl from August the same year. They were still alive. Later on they found four more girls dead. It was the two girls from the bridge and the two other girls from the show.

After the Detroux case a missing persons unit, within the Belgian Federal Police, was founded. The reason for that was to never make the same mistakes again. Their keywords are “our customers” and “our mission”. That gender, age and social status of the victim is of no matter. The philosophy within the unit is “all cases are different”, Routine kills!!!”, “the first 24 hours are the most important” and “never say NEVER”.

Facebook is also pulling their weight when it comes to making children safe. Amber Hagerman was kidnapped and killed in Arlington, Texas on the 13th of January 1996. She was found in a storm drainage ditch. Her killer has not been found as of 2016.

In 1998 AMBER Alerts was created in order help find missing children in North America. It is a child abduction alert system which is distributed through radio and TV channels, but also through Google, Bing and Facebook and other digital forums.

In 2014 a motel owner saw a picture of a missing girl that was shared by a friend on Facebook. She recognized the girl from the night before when a man checked them in as father and daughter. The motel owner called the police and the girl was saved.

After that Facebook teamed up with AMBER Alerts on the 13th of January 2015.

The alert is issued through NCMEC (National Missing Center for Missing and Exploited Children) and everything has to be reported to them.
There are four criteria’s that needs to be fulfilled

• law enforcement must confirm the abduction
• great risk of bodily harm or serious injuries
• sufficient information about the child, captor or captors vehicle
• the child must be under 18 years of age

FB AMBER Alerts are now live in five countries; US, Canada, The Netherlands, South Korea and UK.

Doctor Sharon Cooper, from the US, spoke about the dangerous trend in children learning abuse, sexual violence and perversions from the internet at a young age. A very interesting fact is that the human brain is not fully developed until we are around 20-25 years of age. Literature has linked exposure to violence and pornography in movies during adolescence to increased aggression and permissive sexual behavior. A research in 2012 underscores that teens who visit pornography websites are more likely to engage in risky sexual behavior.
Dr Cooper also spoke about sextortion which are self-produced images by the victim. She equates this with blackmail where the blackmailer threatens to spread the images if the victim doesn’t comply. The result is production of sexual abusive images, it is a criminal act with no “hands on contact” and in the long term victim impact is profound.

Dr Michael Bourke is a Chief Psychologist for the US Marshal Service. He assists law enforcement investigating sex crimes against children through interrogation techniques, threat and violence risk assessment and the administration of polygraph tests.
Dr Bourke speech is about “tactical polygraph”. 135 suspects participated in a research. All of them were known to the police since before. They only admitted to having looked at pictures. The first measure was to interview the suspects. That was done by police officers. 4,7% admitted hands-on abuse of children. 127 of them said they would go through the polygraph test. With that 73 admitted to abuse of children. According to Dr Bourke the “tactical polygraph” is not 100% sure but it will give a hint and can be used as a tool during the investigation.

Detective Inspector Daniel Szumilas from the BKA (Bundeskriminalamt) in Germany spoke of how they use primary schools throughout the country to help with the identification of child victims. The schools are used as a last resort. The legal basis for “public appeals with pictures” is found in the German Code of Criminal Procedure. Twice a year, before and after semester, the BKA gather all their cases with unknown children together and send packages to the regional police. The regional police contact all primary schools in their area to give them necessary information. BKA gets feed-back from the primary schools, via the regional police, and vice versa. As a beneficial effect, these actions have raised the awareness among the schoolteachers and as a result the police receive more tips.

Marcus Erikson is working as a senior financial intelligence professional at AUSTRAC. AUSTRAC is Australia’s financial intelligence unit with regulatory responsibility for anti-money laundering and counter-terrorism financing. They assist in the investigations and prosecution of serious criminal activity.

It takes a network to beat a network

Cecilia Wallin is working for Interpol as a criminal intelligence officer. Interpol plays a central role in identifying and rescuing children from sexual abuse all around the world. Interpol runs a database, ICSE (International Child Sexual Exploitation Image Database). The database makes it possible for all the Interpol member states to post pictures of unidentified children. It is also possible to post environmental pictures in the database. The purpose of the database is to try and identify as many children as possible throughout the world. The victim identification specialists work together, through the database, exchanging clues and thoughts. By the end of 2015 more than 8.000 children in nearly 50 countries were identified. The database shows the significance of working together. Together we are strong.

Narin Phetthong is with the Royal Thai Police. He shared with us the results of a study (The study of Patterns, Developments & Evidence Based Practices in Anti-Child Sex Tourism in Thailand). The result of this research is to out-line best practice in how to successfully combating child sex offenders in Thailand.

In the study they found that all suspects where male. They also looked in to the offender’s social status, what part of the world they came from, if they had any previous records, their preferences in victim’s age, the MO of the offenders, where the offense occurred, and so on.

The analysis of the study showed that efficient investigative strategies would be cooperation with international police and victims, use of surveillance, undercover officers and to monitor websites and social networks. Obstacles they found was the difficulty in how to gain information from the victims, that it is easy to pay the bail bond and “disappear”, the complexity of extradition procedure, to find out new techniques used by the offenders and the difficulty to find proof and evidence against the offenders.

At the Royal Thai Police a new unit, TICAC, has been created. TICAC is Thailand Internet Crime Against Children. According to this, a new amendment has been created under the Criminal Code of Thailand. It is effective since 9th of December 2015. The amendment prohibits child pornography and possession and distribution of child abuse material. So far the TICAC has arrested 7 offenders from different parts of the world.

The conference took place over three days. There were so many excellent speakers and so many interesting speeches. There were amazing case studies given by dedicated investigators. There were also speakers from the private sector and from the UN. There were tips and tricks shared all along the road. There was a lot of net-working with colleagues and friends. New acquaintances were made.
I am impressed by the knowledge that so many people dedicate their work to try and save children all over the world.

To me, this conference has brought new knowledge in some areas. For example, I did not know that it is possible for us to contact UNODC if we experience any problems when we need to cooperate with authorities in other countries.

Neil Walsh, from the UNODC, told us how they work with El Salvador in order to help them. They have provided the forensic/technical unit in El Salvador with everything from tables to software. They are currently trying to get them connected to the ICSE database. They are working with the judiciary to make them realize that if you have 56 victims you have to give a sentence for each victim and not one sentence for all. The court does not allow oral evidence which also is one issue the UNODC is looking in to.

Apart from that I have meet new people from different countries with different professions. In the future, if I have a specific question concerning cooperation with another country there is always a chance that I have someone to call in that country. That will most likely provide me with a contact point and a better knowledge in how to proceed with my investigations and vice versa.

As I had travelled half way around the world I also took the opportunity to visit the Task Force Argos in Brisbane. They were kind enough to guide me around their office and show me how they work.

Of course I could not leave Brisbane and Australia without visiting Steve Erwings Australia Zoo. That, as well as the conference, is something that I will remember for the rest of my life.


Servo Per Amikeco
Liz Berglund
IPA Sweden / Stockholm