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York deputy chief joins child porn task force

Date: October 17, 2004

A new committee to co-ordinate a provincewide strategy to fight Internet child pornography will meet tomorrow (Monday) in Newmarket and include York Regional Police deputy chief Bruce Herridge.

The province announced Wednesday it would be working closely with police across the province to combat Internet crimes against children.

Officers from different forces across the province have formed a committee to develop a strategy by the end of year.

The province plans to put the strategy into action early in 2005 and has promised $5 million in funding.

Chief Armand La Barge hopes the strategy will include plans for provincewide training sessions and shared access to the latest tools and technology to help fight ever-evolving cyber crimes.

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"Our goals are the same in York Region as they are in Durham, Halton, Toronto and all across Ontario, so it just makes sense that we pool our resources together and develop a comprehensive strategy to combat this problem," he said. "It is a crime without borders or boundaries. A child may be here in York Region and chatting on the Internet with a sexual predator somewhere else in Ontario, Canada or the United States. If we want to fight this kind of crime, we can't do it in isolation. What we're doing in York must be done in Ontario and, indeed, across Canada and the United States."

The strategy will have to include a way to get Internet service providers to work more closely with police on saving evidence and tracking child pornographers, he said.

"It's very frustrating when an investigator has a good lead, only to follow up and find the ISP hasn't kept that information on its servers. It's a real challenge," he said.

There have been several high-profile child pornography incidents in York Region. A Vaughan man received a conditional discharge and one-year probation earlier this month after being found guilty of possession of child pornography. In July, an employee of a Richmond Hill company was charged with possession of child pornography. Last year, a Markham soccer coach was found guilty of possession of child pornography.

Minister of Children and Youth Services Marie Bountrogianni and Education Minister Gerard Kennedy are in the midst of developing an anti-Internet luring strategy to help children understand Internet luring and give them the tools they need to protect themselves.

Chief La Barge agreed crime prevention strategies are an important piece of the puzzle.

"Public education, awareness and crime prevention are key," he said. "We always say it is important for parents to keep Internet access in an area where it can be monitored and talking to your children is important, as well. Parents should be talking to their children about who they are befriending in these chat rooms.

"How many times do we find out that 13 or 14- year-old child they think they are talking to is actually a 45-year-old sexual predator?"
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