The initiative launched by Europol has released censored images from child abuse crimes as part of their Stop Child Abuse – Trace an Object campaign. Followers of the campaign have helped by identifying objects from the background of sexually explicit material or geolocating the surrounding area. The public have sent in 18,300 tips since 2017 about the origin of the objects.
Europol have so far located eight victims and prosecuted one offender.
The European Union Agency for Law Enforcement said out of 70 objects identified, 25 have been identified to one or a reasonable number of likely countries of production.
A spokesperson said: “This means that we are almost certain that the image containing child sexual abuse was produced in those countries.
“All of the tips for these 25 objects have been transmitted to these countries and several investigations are currently ongoing.
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“These investigations are very complex and can take months, even years, but these tips are very important as they can be the vital clue that acts as the starting point for an investigation or links other pieces of evidence.”
The images include relatively unique versions of objects such as backpacks, jumpers and parks.
After images are shared on social media, users suggest locations where the picture was taken.
Europol currently hold more than 40 million images of child sexual abuse from across the world.
The spokesperson added: “The most innocent clues can sometimes help crack a case. The objects are all taken from the background of an image with sexually explicit material involving minors.
“We are convinced that more eyes will lead to more leads and will ultimately help to save these children.
“Once the origin of an object is identified, we will inform the competent law enforcement authority of the involved country to further investigate this lead and hopefully speed up the identification of both the offender and the victim.”
Anyone can help by contacting Europol with relevant information.
The public are urged not to share any personal information recognisable online.