Sunday, December 09, 2007

Ship investigation leads to child pornography charges

The Daily News provides some further background on a story that came out on Thursday about the Canadian Border Services Agency investigation into alleged child pornography loaded on a personal laptop and shipboard computer in Prince Rupert Harbour.

The charges were part of an ongoing investigation by CBSA and the RCMP using the latest in computer tracking information, the full details were found in Friday's paper.

Improved training is targeting high-tech misery
By Kris Schumacher
The Daily News
Friday, December 07, 2007
Pages one and three

Thanks to improved training for Canada's Border Services Agency officers, more child pornographers are being identified and charged every year.

On Mon., Dec. 3, CBSA officers boarded a cargo ship at anchor in the Prince Rupert Harbour and conducted a vessel rummage.

During their examination of crew quarters, Border Services Officers discovered a laptop computer and flash drive that contained images of suspected child abuse.

A 58-year-old crew member was immediately arrested by Border Services Officers and turned over to members of the Prince Rupert RCMP Border Integrity Program.

The male suspect was taken into police custody and he appeared in Prince Rupert Provincial Court on Wed., Dec. 5.

He was released from custody and will be appearing in court at a later date to face the charge of possession of child pornography under the Criminal Code of Canada.

"We've had a few incidents where we have made arrests for people that have possessed these types of images, and the courts have dealt with them in a variety of ways," said Constable Jagdev Uppal of the Prince Rupert RCMP Border Integrity Program.

"Some are still pending court, in others the individual plead guilty and served their time in jail in Canada, and were subsequently deemed inadmissable by the CBSA."

Faith St. John, communications director for the CBSA said that since 2003, border officers have been subject to increased training regarding personal electronic devices in order to prevent the international flow of illegal materials such as child pornography.

"Recently, our officers have increased training on examination techniques for electronics like laptops, cellphones, flashcards and those kinds of things, as part of increased awareness training officers received in techniques. It wouldn't be unusual for an officer to see a laptop, turn it on and see what's on there," she said.

"We have the authority to search that, it's no different than if you were coming through the airport and we looked through you luggage."

This advance in electronic examination training began in 2003, prior to which personal electronic devices were not as popular and common as they are today. Since this training was implemented and officers began searching electronics thoroughly, seizures of child pornography have increased every year by 50 per cent nationally. Cst. Uppal said that while the total amount of images seized is not disclosable, the images were very graphic in nature and quite disturbing.
"The additional training helps, because it's a huge problem. The RCMP has also seen a dramatic increase, a lot of it due to the internet," he said.

"A lot of it is readily available and anybody can tap into the internet. There's so much material out there, and it's so disturbing to know that these children are being put into harm's way."

The RCMP and Canada Border Services Agency takes child pornography and sexual assaults very seriously, ensuring that children are saved and protected from further sexual exploitation. Both agencies continue to work together to combat the possession and distribution of images of child sexual abuse.

Individuals who prey on the innocence and trusting nature of young children should be aware that as a result of the closer working relationship between law enforcement agencies around the world, perpetrators will be apprehended and held accountable for their actions, Uppal said.

The RCMP has set up a tip line specifically to report any incidents where children are being sexually abused. Anyone with information regarding child abuse or pornography is asked to call 604-598-4498, or their local RCMP detachment.

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