The AFP is working on software to prevent staff being exposed to distressing digital evidence.

The Federal Police are developing the tool to help sift through the thousands of photographs that need to be identified and categorised during investigations.

It should create a sort of early warning system to flag explicit material for investigators.

Police in both child exploitation and counter-terrorism duties are routinely exposed to explicit material that can cause immense psychological distress.

A prototype image classifier was put together by AFP senior digital forensic examiner Janis Dalins during a three-month data fellowship at Data61.

“During an investigation, the prototype analyses materials and, if they are considered to be extreme or exploitative images, the reviewer can be warned,” Dalins said in a Digital Transformation Agency blog post.

“Importantly, the classifier works with the existing software and systems investigators use. It complements how they already work so they don’t need to change their processes.”

Dalins said the prototype “has now been tested on live operations with extremely positive results”.

He is also working with Data61 to construct a “data airlock” to protect officers from other sensitive content.