A Teesside University lecturer has used his specialist expertise to help train a team of South African police officers on how to protect children from abuse on the internet.
While in South Africa, Dr Gavin Oxburgh, a senior lecturer in forensic psychology, worked alongside the country’s inspirational Iyavar Chetty, who was forced into exile in the mid-1960s for his political views and his active participation in South Africa’s struggle for liberation.
During his recent visit to South Africa, Gavin was involved in the training of around 50 officers from the South African Police Service (SAPS) examining the computer facilitated sexual exploitation of children. Topics covered included image analysis, open source intelligence and the investigative interviewing of both child victims and suspected offenders.
Gavin, a former Royal Air Force Police senior detective, said: “My area of expertise is the investigative interviewing of suspected sex offenders and victims of sexual abuse. We used real life examples of interviews with suspected offenders from this country so the officers in South Africa could see examples of best practice first-hand.
“At the moment South Africa is not as advanced as other countries in this highly specialised area and we are trying to make them more aware of the latest issues and research.
“For me, this is what we should be doing as academics – passing on the knowledge we have gained from our research to help the development of others.”
Gavin was invited to deliver training in South Africa by Paul Gillespie, CEO and founder of KINSA - the Kids’ Internet Safety Alliance - a registered Canadian charity. KINSA works with global law enforcement experts to deliver training and build capacity in developing nations so that they are better able to identify and rescue children whose images of abuse are shared on the internet.
He was particularly inspired to work alongside Iyavar Chetty, who has held several senior posts while in exile, including Senior Law Officer in the Office of the Attorney-General and later Deputy Permanent Secretary (Deputy Director-General) in Zimbabwe. Iyavar represented South Africa as a member of the Council of Europe’s Committee of Experts drafting the International Cybercrime Convention – the Budapest Convention – to which South Africa is a signatory, and was also involved in the drafting of the first protocol to the Budapest Convention on racism and xenophobia on the internet.
Gavin added: “To work alongside Iyavar was hugely interesting and inspirational. He is one of the nicest and most genuine people I have ever met. To listen to him talk and hear some of the things he has been involved with was a remarkable experience.”
Iyavar Chetty said: “The research that Gavin is currently working on, and the training he is providing to detectives from the SAPS and other police forces around the world is very welcome indeed and is essential in helping to combat the problem of child pornography and child sexual abuse.”
Paul Gillespie, CEO and founder of KINSA, added: “Gavin’s workshop was very important as it is vital that investigators learn how to effectively interview both child abuse victims as well as those who offend against them – two very different interviewing techniques.”