RCMP warn of P.E.I. child porn activity

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Members of the RCMP involved in a nation-wide investigation into child sexual exploitation are currently reviewing images and videos seized during searches on the Island. From left are Constables Cheryl Duffy, Shannon Hodder and Chris Manuel.

The sexual exploitation of children is one of those things people in P.E.I. would like to think doesn’t happen here.

Or that if it does happen here, doesn’t happen very often.

But members of the RCMP involved in Operation Snapshot III told reporters in Charlottetown Tuesday that the six people charged on the Island in this latest operation are just the tip of the iceberg.

There are as many people viewing and downloading sexually explicit images of children here on the Island as there are anywhere else in the country on a per capita basis, officers say.

Const. Chris Manuel, a tech crimes officer with the RCMP in Charlottetown, provided some insight into the amount of material seized during searches conducted here.

Police seized 11 CDs or DVDs, seven personal computers, four USB thumb drives and seven external hard drives. Those numbers may not seem significant by themselves, but they become significant when one considers the amount of data those devices can store.

Manuel said those devices contained 1.7 terabytes of images and video.

To illustrate just how much data that is he offered the following explanation.

A single megabyte of data is equal to 312 sheets of letter size paper, which if stacked one sheet on top of another would be 1.6 inches thick. There are 1,024 megabytes of data in a gigabyte and 1,024 gigabytes in a terabyte.

Manuel said if printed out and stacked the data seized in P.E.I. would be 25 miles high.

Questioned as to whether their investigation had revealed any person-to-person contact between the accused and any children in P.E.I., Const. Cheryl Duffy said thankfully there had not been any such contact.

Activity here has been limited to accessing, downloading and sharing images and videos, she indicated. But she stressed that every time one of those images or videos is accessed, viewed or downloaded, it equates to one more time the child in those images and videos has been violated.

Sgt. Leanne Butler, media relations officer for the RCMP in P.E.I., said officers are now engaged in the time consuming and emotionally taxing process of reviewing the images seized here to determine which of them would be considered child pornography under the Criminal Code.

It is a daunting task.

“Children’s sexual exploitation has come to be one of the most horrific types of investigation a police officer has to face,” Butler said. “And yet we are never short of members and volunteers who want to step up and make a difference for the children.”

Butler said the fact their investigations here yielded eight active case files is viewed as a significant success.

As to what can be done here to reduce the level of such activity and minimize the risk of children been drawn into such activity, Butler said prevention was their strongest ally.

She said parents must educate their children about predators. She said as well that the only way to stop the downloading and sharing of such pornography is to successfully prosecute those individuals who engage in this activity.

As to when those charged here will appear in court, Const. Shannon Hodder said the first of these accused persons will begin to appear in provincial court in early fall.

Further information on combatting child sexual exploitation in Canada can be found on the RCMP’s website at http://www.rcmp-grc.gc.ca/ncecc-cncee/about-ausujet-eng.htm.

Organizations: RCMP

Geographic location: P.E.I., Charlottetown, Canada

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