Numerous charges have been laid across Ontario, in what police are calling a snapshot of one month’s worth of work by Internet Child Exploitation Investigators that make up the Provincial Strategy to Protect Children from Sexual Abuse and Exploitation on the Internet.

At a media conference on Wednesday in Vaughan, Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) along with 26 police agencies of the Provincial Strategy announced the results of investigations during the month of November across the entire province of Ontario.

Here locally, the Chatham-Kent Police Service executed a warrant at a residence in Chatham on November 7, 2018.

Chatham-Kent Police Service officials say 15 devices were seized for analysis.

A 26-year-old man was charged with possession of child pornography, accessing child pornography and distributing child pornography.

A 25-year-old man was charged with possession of child pornography and accessing child pornography.

They were released pending a future court date of December 11, 2018.

“The Chatham-Kent Police Service is fully committed to the Provincial Strategy,” stated Detective Steve Kloostra, ICE Unit Supervisor, Chatham-Kent Police Service.

“These offences are not just photographs and videos, they are real children in highly abusive situations. The members in our Internet Child Exploitation Unit (ICE) are specifically trained and dedicated to investigating these types of offences against children. We have and will continue our efforts to protect children and identify those responsible for their exploitation.”

A total of 267 judicial authorizations were obtained, resulting in 551 charges against 122 persons, including 11 youth who cannot be identified under terms of the Youth Criminal Justice Act. Charges include: Sexual Assault, Sexual Interference, Invitation to Sexual Touching, Possession of Child Pornography, Make Available Child Pornography, Distribution of Child Pornography, Making Child Pornography, Accessing Child Pornography, Luring, Making Sexually Explicit Material Available to a Child.

“It is our fundamental and moral responsibility to ensure every child grows up safe,” stated Deputy Commissioner Rick Barnum, OPP Investigation and Support Bureau.

“On behalf of the OPP, I want to make this message very clear: We will not stand for anyone hurting our kids. We will do everything we can to reduce the threat child predators pose to our children.”

In addition, 55 victims were identified during the investigations and referred to appropriate community-based resources for assistance.

Police also seized a total of 17 firearms three of which were loaded handguns.

Additional partners that participated in these investigations included RCMP, Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA), Canadian Forces National Investigation Service, The FBI and United States Homeland Security Investigations. Representatives of BOOST Child and Youth Advocacy Centre and the Canadian Centre for Child Protection (CCCP) were also on hand to advocate for more services for identified victims of exploitation and to enhance awareness to prevent further harm and victimization.

“The investigators of the Provincial Strategy and our partners work tirelessly in one of the most difficult jobs in policing to bring those who would harm our children to justice,” stated Inspector Tina Chalk, OPP Counter Exploitation and Missing Persons Section

“We know from experience that working together will allow us to most effectively combat the internet sexual exploitation of children.”

Police displayed a video showing 834 unique IP addresses associated to the possession or making available of child sexual abuse material or were present on a suspected child pornography website.

These IP addresses were observed over the month of November alone.

Police describe these numbers as the “tip of the iceberg” in relation to online child sexual exploitation in Ontario.

From its inception in August 2006, the entire Provincial Strategy has completed 50,403 investigations and laid 20,901 charges against 5,686 people. During that period, 2,009 child victims have been identified in Ontario and beyond.

“Perpetrators of online sexual exploitation often minimize their actions by saying they were ‘just looking’,” stated Staff Sergeant Sharon Hanlon, Coordinator of the Provincial Strategy to Protect Children from Sexual Abuse and Exploitation on the Internet.

“Let me be clear: Anyone who possesses, distributes, accesses or otherwise supports the supply and demand chain for child sexual abuse images are complicit in the sexual exploitation of children.”

The Provincial Strategy promotes information and resource-sharing across our Province, Nation, and Worldwide, for the ultimate goal of protecting children.

On November 27, 2018, the Chatham-Kent Police Service also assisted the Sarnia Police Service in the execution of a search warrant in their community.

With the aid of local police investigative tools, numerous electronic devices were triaged on-site, reducing unnecessary seizure which can overwhelm storage resources.