Criminal justice

Efficient and effective criminal justice is an important component of any national effort to counter child sexual exploitation and abuse online

Why is this needed?

Offenders and potential offenders should know that they are at risk of discovery and prosecution. The ability to identify and assess risks to children, prevent harm where possible and prosecute offenders is essential.

A legal system, enforced by capable police and trained prosecutors, helps protect children online. Reporting mechanisms can help support enforcement so that users can report concerns. Additional tools include shared access to international databases, particularly those regarding child sexual abuse material, and offender targeting methodologies.

Criminal justice systems can contribute to building a safer internet for children if:


Officers and prosecutors have the needed expertise in tackling child sexual exploitation online and in providing solutions for investigating encrypted content, keeping a victim-focused approach.

database access

There is shared access to international databases and the will to collaborate together to develop technology solutions to investigate offenders.


The necessary steps are put in place to prevent re-offending of those in the criminal justice system nationally and internationally.

You can find more detailed information about how criminal justice can help tackle child sexual abuse online in our frameworks, the Model National Response and the Global Strategic Response, and their online guides.

What is being done in this area?

Our and UNICEF’s Framing the Future report gives an insight into how 42 Alliance countries have responded to child sexual abuse online and some of their challenges and best practices.

When it comes to criminal justice, the report shows that:

88 % of the countries surveyed reported that the judiciary and/or prosecution services have some specialist knowledge and skills
2 / 3 of the surveyed countries are connected to the Interpol’s International Child Sexual Exploitation (ICSE) database
71% of the countries surveyed have processes in place to manage and/or rehabilitate child sex offenders