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Western Australian cops using new technology to catch paedophiles

How cops are using space and mining technology to catch paedophiles and find missing kids

  • Cutting-edge tech developed for other industries is being used to fight crime
  • ‘Mission specialist’ Fugro was awarded a $4.9 million contract with WA police
  • New WA Police Commissioner Col Blanch said it’s already been used

Technology used in space exploration and mining is being used to catch paedophiles and fight organized crime.

Col Blanch was appointed as Western Australian police commissioner on July 15 after 30 years on the force and was the cop who broke the news that kidnapped toddler Cleo Smith was found safe.

Known for his ‘fierce work ethic’, he warned that his focus was firmly on safeguarding children from abuse and exploitation.

His previous experience includes several high-profile roles including director of intelligence for the Australian Criminal Intelligence Commission.

New WA Police Commissioner Col Blanch (pictured) said he will ‘aggressively’ crack down on child exploitation and organized crime

Mr Blanch said artificial intelligence technology had already played a significant role in locating kidnapped toddler Cleo Smith who was found safe after she went missing for 18 days last year (pictured)

Mr Blanch said artificial intelligence technology had already played a significant role in locating kidnapped toddler Cleo Smith who was found safe after she went missing for 18 days last year (pictured)

‘I’ll be targeting those type of offenders in the community…using partners like Telstra, like the FBI, like the Commonwealth, we will be finding people in our community who are exploiting our children,’ he told The Sunday Times.

‘We are going to use technology super aggressively… we’ve found a way to rapidly identify them all very quickly.’

Commissioner Blanch said cops were using cutting-edge technology being developed for other industries, and applying it to police work.

He pointed to geo-data company Fugro as an example, saying its work on remote mine sites for Rio Tinto and BHP and space exploration with NASA was already being used to find people lost in the bush or on the ocean.

WA Police awarded a $4.9 million contract to Fugro which is already heavily involved in the Australian Space Automation, Artificial Intelligence and Robotics Control Complex in Perth.

He said communications and robotics technologies could be directly applied to policework and artificial intelligence was being used to sift through mountains of information far more quickly than officers physically could.

He said this had already been successfully used on cases he had overseen including the bikie-linked assassination of Nick Martin at a drag racing event and helping to locate kidnapped toddler Cleo Smith.

Mr Blanch has more than three decades of experience in policing (pictured early on in his career)

Mr Blanch has more than three decades of experience in policing (pictured early on in his career)

Bikie gangs and other organized criminals are another particular focus of Commissioner Blanch, who wants to build on anti-bikie laws introduced in 2021.

He said he not only intended to make WA a ‘hostile’ place for bikies, he wanted to cut off their connections with larger organisations.

‘In the next couple of weeks I intend to go and speak to the Commonwealth about what they can do to support us in that. We are going to have a very aggressive posture against those offshore and on the east coast who are targeting WA,’ he said.

After a wave of resignations at WA’s police force over the past 12 months, Commissioner Blanch also said he wanted to support officers as much as possible.

More than 300 officers resigned between July 2021 and July 2022.

He said one of his first tasks as commissioner would be increasing communication with officers and other specialists such as police psychologists.

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