Media Release: Arrests made leading into National Child Protection Week
Release Date: Tuesday, September 04 2012, 09:00 AM
Victoria Police has combined forces with the Australian Federal Police (AFP) to charge 20 offenders with more than 45 offences relating to online child exploitation in less than a month.
Since 6 August, Taskforce Astraea and AFP’s Child Protection Operations have executed a series of raids as part of 27 investigations, locating over 25,000 child exploitation images.
Five of the offenders were charged as a direct result of online chats with undercover detectives.
This week is National Child Protection Week, a national campaign held annually throughout Australia to raise awareness of child abuse prevention. This year’s theme is ‘Protecting children is everybody’s business’.
Assistant Commissioner Steve Fontana said it was a timely reminder that police were doing all they could to stamp out child abuse.
"Taskforce Astraea is an extremely strong resource for police in our work to eliminate child abuse from society," Mr Fontana said.
"It’s abhorrent that these crimes occur and it is our duty as police to ensure that our children, all children, are safe."
AFP Commander Scott Lee said police in Australia are committed to ensuring children are safe, no matter what environment they are in.
“These arrests highlight the unified approach Australian law enforcement agencies take to make the internet safer for children.
“The AFP and the Victoria Police will continue to work together to combat the threat of online sexual offending against children”.
This year Victoria Police further boosted its response to child abuse, with the completion of the transition of 27 Sexual Offences and Child Abuse Investigation Teams (SOCIT), which aim to provide a consistent, collaborative and victim-focused response to sexual assault and child abuse cases.
SOCIT deal with a case from the time of disclosure, through the investigation process and then on to court, meaning that victims are able to establish an ongoing relationship and trust with one or two police members without having to continually re-tell their personal experiences.
"We appreciate that coming to police about these issues can be difficult, so we aim to make it as easy as possible for victims to tell their story and begin the journey toward the justice they deserve,” Mr Fontana said.
"Victoria Police takes child abuse extremely seriously and with our taskforce and 27 specialist teams, we are now operating in full force to ensure our children are protected.
"While police and other specialists play an important role in bringing perpetrators to justice, everyone has a role to play in protecting our children from violence, abuse and neglect.
"Education is the key and National Child Protection Week is an important campaign in raising awareness about these issues within the community," Mr Fontana said.
Victoria Police Media (03) 9247 5205
AFP Media (Canberra) (02) 6131 6333