Europol launched an awareness campaign on Tuesday to help find its most wanted sex offenders.
“It’s happening now, every two minutes. That’s the average time a sexual offence is reported to the police in the European Union, be it rape, sexual violence or assault,” Europol’s announcement, which was promoted by Cyprus police said on Tuesday.
The campaign, launched in 19 countries across Europe, aims to turn the spotlight on the perpetrators and ask the public’s help in finding them.
Eighteen male fugitives suspected or convicted of sexual offences have been targeted and prioritised to feature on Europe’s Most Wanted Fugitives website, eumostwanted.eu.
There are no Cypriots on the list.
For four weeks, law enforcement authorities will circulate their images online and on social networking sites.
The campaign will also be promoted on multiple media channels to attract as many visitors to the eumostwanted.eu website.
“Anyone can be a victim of sexual assault,” Europol said, “although women and children suffer the most at the hands of these violent criminal acts.
The countries participating are Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Denmark, France, Germany, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, the Netherlands, Poland, Romania, Spain, Sweden and the United Kingdom.
The public can send information anonymously via the eumostwanted.eu website which will be shared directly with the national investigators looking for the fugitive.
“In the past, such tips have already proved invaluable,” the announcement said.
Since the launch of the project in 2016, some 91 criminals featured on eumostwanted.eu website have been arrested. In at least 33 cases, this was thanks to information from the general public via the website.
“By the time you’ve finished reading this, at least one violent sex offence will most likely have already been reported somewhere in the EU,” Europol’s announcement added.
Europe’s Most Wanted was initiated by the European Network of Fugitive Active Search Teams (ENFAST) community with the active support of Europol. The members of ENFAST are all specialised in locating criminals on the run who are suspected or have been convicted of serious crimes and are subject to European Arrest Warrants.