A Darwin teenager has been arrested and charged with multiple child abuse offences after authorities executed a search warrant on his house and seized mobile phones, storage devices, and various children’s underwear.
The teen is the third Territorian to be charged with possessing child abuse materials this month.
The latest charges follow a referral last year to the Australian Centre to Counter Child Exploitation (ACCCE) from the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC) in relation to an online user allegedly transmitting child abuse material on multiple social media platforms.
Details of which social media platforms were used was not released.
Earlier this month, Northern Territory Joint Anti Child Exploitation Team (NT JACET), comprising members from the Australian Federal Police and Northern Territory Police, identified that the 19-year-old teenage man from Darwin was allegedly behind the online account peddling child abuse materials.
The man was arrested and charged with multiple counts of possession of child abuse materials. Some of the charges could result in 15 years in prison. He is scheduled to appear in the Darwin Local Court today.
AFP Child Protection and Human Trafficking Operations Detective Superintendent Paula Hudson warned perpetrators of this crime that accessing and sharing child abuse materials on social media have real world consequences.
“Our work with domestic and international partners is key to targeting those involved in this horrendous industry and stopping them from causing further harm to victims of online child abuse,” Det. Supt. Hudson said.
Online child sexual exploitation amid the pandemic
The ACCCE and the Australian Federal Police (AFP) remain concerned about online child sexual exploitation (OCSE) during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Demand for abuse imagery has shot up in Australia, where downloading leapt by 86 per cent in the three weeks after the March lockdown, according to a data from the ACCCE.
Det. Supt. Hudson said many offenders see the pandemic as an ideal opportunity to target children.
According to a recent ABC report, law enforcement authorities found that child abuse websites are “crashing” over recent weeks because of a sharp increase in people accessing them during the COVID-19 lockdown. Reports of child abuse have risen from 776 to 1,731 per month, according to ACCCE.
Just this month, two men aged 56 and 45, from the NT have been busted for processing and transmitting child abuse materials on social media.
NT Police urge anyone with information about people involved in child abuse and exploitation to call them at Crime stoppers on 1800 333 000.
Reports can also be sent online to the Australian Centre to Counter Child Exploitation via the Report Abuse button at www.accce.gov.au/report.