First Sweetie arrest in Netherlands

Following convictions of online child sex predators in Great Britain, Denmark, Belgium, Poland and Australia, a Dutch child sex abuser has been arrested for the first time thanks to Sweetie.

Sweetie identifies 20 Dutch child sex abusers

And this is not the only Dutchman to have been identified by this computer-generated ten-year-old girl. Of the 1000 individuals who were identified via “Sweetie” in 2013, twenty were Dutch nationals. Terre des Hommes has transferred all these case files to the Dutch police via EUROPOL. The cases have been investigated and assessed by the National Unit for Child Pornography and Child Sex Tourism and the Dutch Public Prosecution Department (OM).

The first conviction

One of the offenders was convicted for the possession of child pornography. He was found to have child pornography in his possession and that justified an arrest. The man was brought before the public prosecutor on 23 September. In a provisional judgement, the court ruled that the offender should receive specialised therapy pending his hearing in approximately 6 months time.

Doing Nothing Is Not An Option

Making an arrest or gaining a conviction based on chats with Sweetie has proved to be extremely difficult in practice in the Netherlands, however the police have persisted. In line with the new programme called Doing Nothing Is Not An Option, the police visited a number of suspects at home and asked them to voluntarily give up their computers for further investigation. Terre des Hommes welcomes the proactive approach that has been adopted by the Dutch police.

"Clearly, both the police and the judiciary understand the benefit of proactive and preventive action. A home visit is an excellent way of warning and deterring potential offenders. Not all cases can be brought to a conviction, but doing nothing is indeed not an option."

Hans Guijt, projectleader Sweetie Project Terre des Hommes

Frightening off child sex abusers with chat bots

Sweetie's success has now led to a further campaign. 'Sweetie 2.0: stamp out webcam sex with children' focuses on discouraging, deterring and warning those who engage in webcam sex with children. Together with a team of international specialists, Terre des Hommes has developed chat bots that can be used to automatically monitor thousands of chat rooms and approach, identify and localise potential child sex abusers. This sequel to the successful ‘Sweetie’ bot, a computer-generated 10-year-old girl, has been funded by the Nationale Postcode Loterij.

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