The guidance document ‘Supporting the Wellbeing of Internet Child Abuse Teams (ICAT)’ has been designed to support forces to develop or enhance existing staff policies relating to those working in the online CSA arena and those handling indecent imagery of children (IIOC) as part of ongoing investigations.
Child sexual abuse (CSA), including the investigation of IIOC offences, has been placed on the strategic policing requirement and is therefore a national priority for every force across England and Wales.
Due to the nature of online CSA and IIOC investigations, officers and staff working in this area are at a higher risk of distress and potential trauma, so require a more considered and potentially enhanced staff welfare response.
Although this guidance was written primarily for ICAT, (also known as POLIT, OCSAE, and CEOP) it may have broader applicability across all those investigating CSA, child sexual exploitation (CSE), and other forms of vulnerability. In some forces, some ICAT duties have been devolved to other groups and teams. The principles outlined in this guidance would be applicable for anyone investigating online child abuse.
Research indicates that it’s not just reviewing indecent imagery which can impact on staff welfare. Chat logs, audio clips, and working directly with victims can also have an adverse effect.
The aim of this guide is to provide police forces with the information and guidance they need to support ICAT teams and to create environments and procedures which reduce the likelihood of adverse psychological conditions developing. It also offers information and advice on how to build the resilience and coping capacities of those involved in this important work.
You can download a copy below: