Detective Superintendent Cheryl Scanlon said the age, occupation and location of each child exploitation offender was varied. Photo: Phil CarrickA pilot training program for detectives aimed at cracking down on child exploitation offences across Queensland has wrapped up on the Gold Coast and Logan, with six people arrested since it the program began.
Gold Coast and Logan detectives completed a pilot training program under Taskforce Orion aimed at improving response times to child exploitation investigations pushed out by the Child Protection and Investigation Unit.
Child Safety and Sexual Crimes Group Detective Superintendent Cheryl Scanlon said officers who had gone through the pilot training were provided with equipment that would increase their capability to deal with offenders involved in child exploitation material.
“What Taskforce Orion has allowed us to do is take specialised training teams region to region, travelling around the state to increase not only the equipment that is needed to retrieve material from people who are offending online, but also to conduct investigations around possession, distribution and manufacturing of child exploitation material,” she said.
“The training course is quite intensive, people need to have good skills in the technology space, it is obviously quite difficult work, when you are dealing with images of children and they are child exploitation images.”
Superintendent Scanlon said, since January 1, 44 people had been arrested on over 170 offences of child exploitation, possession, distribution and contact offences across Queensland.
Their ages ranged from 16 to 64 and occupations included a landscape gardener, a student, a bottle shop attendee, a teacher and a retiree.
“This work is the sort of investigation that is not isolated to any particular group in our community, it happens in all parts of community, across all walks of life,” she said.
The Orion team worked alongside the existing Taskforce Argos and focused on people who used peer-to-peer networks, or the so-called Darknet, to share child pornography.
Superintendent Scanlon said the training was integral to ensuring same-day responses to time sensitive investigations and confirmed two international specialists were brought in to help classify child exploitation images.
“It might be that we receive a job, it will be pushed out to a region, we can have detectives out the same day, same day response if they have the ability and training and technology to be able to progress the investigation immediately,” she said.
“The timeliness of that is critical, particularly when you have children in a house it gives us greater footprint across the state to do that work.
“It is allowing us to create a footprint into the future to give us better capability to respond quicker and if there are children in those houses that we locate those children and maintain their safety.
“Out of the Orion funding we have recruited some international specialists from Europe and America to come on board to be additional image classifiers, to classify if an image is child exploitation material.”
Regional Crime Coordinator Superintendent Dave Hutchinson said 20 detectives from Gold Coast and Logan had been involved in the Taskforce Orion pilot training program that resulted in the arrest of six offenders.
“Those people are attached to our Child Protection Units both here on Gold Coast and Logan,” he said.
“Working in conjunction with State Crime Command, so far since training was given in early April, we have arrested six offenders on 21 charges.”
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