Former chief constable to speak at child abuse conference

More than 700 delegates are expected from 68 countries at the conference in Edinburgh.

Former chief constable to speak at Edinburgh-hosted child abuse conference Getty Images

Former chief constable Sir Iain Livingstone will address a conference in Edinburgh aimed at tackling child abuse.

The International Society for the Prevention of Child Abuse and Neglect (ISPCAN) will hold its congress in the Scottish capital between Monday and Wednesday.

Sir Iain – who left his post as the head of Police Scotland in August – will address the conference on Monday.

More than 700 delegates are expected from up to 68 countries and 20 regional and international organisations covering education, the legal profession, medicine, education and religion.

Themed around advancements in data and solutions to tackle child abuse, ISPCAN has partnered with the new data institute Childlight – based at Edinburgh University’s Moray House – which aims to gather data on the prevalence of child abuse to aid policy making to counter it.

Pragathi Tummala, the CEO of ISPCAN, said the group was “chasing an avalanche” in relation to child abuse.

She added: “Unlike many other public health issues, child protection has unique challenges.

“Children cannot advocate for themselves, they do not always disclose abuse, and it’s a crime done to them, with long-term consequences.

“We have to protect and detect issues wherever children live, go to school, go online, play sports, and everywhere in between when they are vulnerable to harm.

“Post-Covid, child abuse and neglect surged and we urgently need unique solutions like Childlight is taking on.

“We are chasing after an avalanche with enormous personal and societal costs if we don’t get ahead of protecting children from violence.”

The congress will be the first to officially partner with law enforcement.

Ms Tummala added that the group’s network will act as a “pipeline to best practice” and the legacy of the event will help to improve the tackling of child abuse in Scotland.

Paul Stanfield, the chief executive of Childlight and a former director of organised and emerging crime at Interpol, said the “vast majority of data relating to child sexual exploitation and abuse across the world is neither analysed nor acted upon”.

“I am talking about millions, if not billions, of data sets containing children being sexually abused by perpetrators and where little or nothing is being done to stop it,” he said.

“Childlight brings the best of academia’s research capability to complement law enforcement’s high-value data sets and front-line capabilities to help change this terrible situation.

“We will do this by taking a data-driven and evidence-based approach to understanding the prevalence and nature of child sexual exploitation and abuse.

“To achieve this we need to work together as a global community.

“The ISPCAN Congress is the ideal platform to help achieve this.

“We look forward to welcoming 700 academics and professionals from all over the world to Edinburgh.

“We are taking this fight head-on and to win we need colleagues to stand shoulder-to-shoulder with us.”

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