National Child Protection Week – 45 people charged following joint operation in WA

Child_Exploitation

This is a joint media release between the Australian Federal Police and Western Australia Police Force

Editor’s note: Operation Tamworth Warrants - hightail link to images

National Child Protection Week (NCPW) is a national campaign to highlight and educate the community that every child should be able to grow up safe. The campaign runs from Sunday 4 September through to Saturday 10 September 2022.

In the lead up to NCPW 2022, a joint operation involving Australian Federal Police, WA Police, and Australian Border Force, conducted AFP Operation TAMWORTH /WA Police Operation PALOMAR, to target offenders involved in the manufacture, distribution and possession of child exploitation material.  Over a seven-day period officers from WA Joint Anti Child Exploitation Team (WA JACET), consisting of AFP and WA Police officers executed more than 60 search warrants in metropolitan and regional locations of Western Australia.

This resulted in 45 people being charged in WA with 149 offences and the seizure of 35,222 images and videos of child exploitation material.

Importantly three victims were identified and rescued from ongoing child sexual abuse.

In 2021, the AFP led Australian Centre to Counter Child Exploitation (ACCCE) received more than 33,000 incoming reports of child exploitation. This is double the number of reports from 2019.

AFP Detective Superintendent Graeme Marshall said the arrests were another example of the work undertaken by the AFP and WA Police every day to protect children across the country, and that law enforcement would identify, arrest and prosecute predators who sought to exploit and harm them.

"These figures show the scale of the problem and how we need everyone in the community – parents, teachers, carers - to be alert.  Let this serve as a warning to anyone who produces or shares child abuse material - you will be caught,” he said.

“The AFP, together with our State, Commonwealth and international partners remain committed to identifying, arresting and prosecuting those who seek to exploit and harm our community’s most vulnerable – our children.”

Detective Superintendent Gordon Fairman from the WA Police Sex Crime Division states “It has to be remembered that Child Exploitation Material is not pornography – it is direct evidence of children being abused. Identifying, locating and rescuing these children is the highest priority for WA Police and we work closely with national and international partners to do this. People who manufacture, distribute or possess Child Exploitation Material may believe they are anonymous, hiding behind a computer. Let me tell you that they are not.  As this operation shows, we can identify them, we can locate them and we can prosecute them.”  

The AFP and its partners are committed to stopping child exploitation and abuse and the AFP-led Australian Centre to Counter Child Exploitation is driving a collaborative national approach to combatting child abuse.

The ACCCE brings together specialist expertise and skills in a central hub, supporting investigations into online child sexual exploitation and developing prevention strategies focused on creating a safer online environment.

Members of the public who have information about people involved in child abuse and exploitation are urged to call Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000 or www.accce.gov.au/report. If you know abuse is happening right now or a child is at risk, call police immediately on 000.

Research conducted by the ACCCE in 2020 revealed only about half of parents talked to their children about online safety.

An award-winning podcast launched last year by the ACCCE 'Closing The Net' is working to change that, showcasing that knowledge is power and that our only chance to help prevent this issue is if we bring a 'whole-of-community' response.

The podcast series offers valuable tips and advice on how to keep kids safe online. Listen to the Closing The Net podcast on your favourite streaming platform.

If you or someone you know are impacted by child sexual abuse and online exploitation there are support services available at www.accce.gov.au/support.

Advice and support for parents and carers about how they can help protect children online can be found at www.thinkuknow.org.au, an AFP-led education program designed to prevent online child sexual exploitation.

Note to media:

Use of term 'CHILD ABUSE' MATERIAL NOT 'CHILD PORNOGRAPHY'

The correct legal term is Child Abuse Material – the move to this wording was among amendments to Commonwealth legislation in 2019 to more accurately reflect the gravity of the crimes and the harm inflicted on victims.

Use of the phrase "child pornography" is inaccurate and benefits child sex abusers because it:

  • indicates legitimacy and compliance on the part of the victim and therefore legality on the part of the abuser; and
  • conjures images of children posing in 'provocative' positions, rather than suffering horrific abuse.

Every photograph or video captures an actual situation where a child has been abused.

Media enquiries:
AFP National Media: (02) 5126 9297

WA Police Force Media: (08) 9222 1011

 

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If it doesn't add up, speak up. Call the National Security Hotline - 1800 123 400.

Read the AFP Annual Report 2020-21

Australian Centre to Counter Child Exploitation - visit website

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