eSafety, NSW Police boost partnership to tackle online harms

The eSafety Commissioner will expand cooperation with NSW Police to fight the rising tide of criminal activity online, including tech-facilitated violence, hate, sexual extortion, child abuse and youth crime.

eSafety Commissioner Julie Inman Grant and NSW Police Commissioner Karen Webb signed an updated Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) yesterday at NSW Police headquarters, formalising updated protocols for cooperation when investigating online harms.

Part of a network of agreements with law enforcement agencies nationally and around the world, the MoU will see eSafety share information from investigations into some of the thousands of complaints it receives every month.

"Reports to eSafety have spiked alarmingly across all our reporting schemes in recent times,” Ms Inman Grant said.

“We recorded a 65 per cent jump in cyberbullying last financial year alone, for example, a 55 per cent increase in image-based abuse and a 45 per cent increase in illegal and restricted content,” Ms Inman Grant said.

“As well as higher volumes, we’ve also observed online content and threats becoming more violent and, at times, criminal.

“As a result, we’re seeing increased community concern about everything from online dating to sextortion, cyberbullying and youth crime being shared and promoted through social media.”

NSW Police Commissioner Karen Webb said the renewed MOU showed the commitment both agencies had to promoting online safety. 

"I am committed to keeping the community safe, both offline and online.” 

"The eSafety Commissioner plays an important role and we value our continued partnership to address online safety issues."

The MoU updates protocols to reflect eSafety’s expanded role and powers under the Online Safety Act. 

Similar updates are progressing with state and territory police forces and Australian Federal Police bodies like Counter Terrorism and the Australian Centre for Countering Child Exploitation.

They sit within a broader program of communication and outreach, both with senior leadership and frontline officers. eSafety provides information, resources and training to help police deal with online harms ranging from cyberbullying to gender-based violence.

”While eSafety is equipped with civil powers to address many online harms, it is vital we also work with law enforcement to target perpetrators and identify victims in more serious criminal matters,” Ms Inman Grant said.

“As the largest law enforcement agency in the Southern Hemisphere, NSW Police are a mission-critical partner for us as we work to jointly tackle online harms at scale and educate the NSW community about eSafety’s role.”

Internationally, eSafety also maintains regular contact with INHOPE, the global network dedicated to tackling CSEA material, Interpol and Europol.

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