Identifying the Perpetrators of Child Sexual Abuse











Novel research at the University of Dundee has influenced substantially the conviction rate of perpetrators of child sexual abuse.

Innovation in forensic human anatomical identification has influenced directly the investigation of 29 cases of child sexual abuse from 21 police forces across the UK and has resulted in two life sentences and over 90 years of incarceration sentencing. This has removed dangerous predators from society.

This work has impacted significantly on the judicial world, academia, criminal investigations and victim management. Its public value has been commended at the highest level in the Scottish Justice system.

In many paedophile related investigations, the perpetrator will photograph his/her hands or genitalia during the process of sexual assault. Professor Black at the University of Dundee has been at the forefront of developing new methods that exploit current information on biometrics and the inherent lack of symmetry in the human body to provide a statistical likelihood ratio that the suspect and the perpetrator are the same individual.

Professor Black and her team are the only practitioners undertaking this work in the UK, Europe and perhaps even globally and all cases referred to the National Policing Improvements Agency come to this team at Dundee.  

It has resulted in 68% of those accused changing their plea to guilty thereby saving extensive court time and the trauma for families and children of being exposed to the criminal court system. It has resulted in two life sentences and over 83 years of incarceration sentencing – thereby removing dangerous predators from society.  

Its public value has been commended at the highest level in the Scottish Justice system.

A database of hand images has been created to enable research into anatomical variability through forensic processes and help combat the sexual exploitation of children. This research has been funded by the European Commission Directorate-General (DG) Home Affairs under their Prevention of and Fight against Crime (ISEC) programme.

This comprehensive database has allowed Prof Black and her team to build up a classification of anatomical features related to hands and genitalia that can aid the identification of individuals perpetrating child sexual abuse.