Sex Crimes SquadDetective Superintendent Linda Howlett
Whilst all police have a role in protection of children, clear areas of responsibility have been established for the investigation of child abuse matters. The Sex Crimes Squad and the Joint Investigation Response Squad (JIRS) were established to ensure provision of a specialist adult sexual assault and child protection service to support Local Area Commands across NSW. These services are offered in partnership with Community Services (formerly Department of Community Services), and the Department of Health
The Sex Crimes Squad Commander is the Head of Profession for Sex Crimes. The Commander has a key role in focusing Local Area Commands and Regions response to this crime type through State-wide monitoring.
The aim of the Squad is to:
- Investigate sex crimes that are protracted, complex, serial and serious in nature.
- Identify crime trends, and develop Operational Strategies, Programs and Policies.
- Maintain the Child Protection Register in accordance with Legislative and Policy requirements.
- Provide consultancy in local investigations if necessary.
The Squad includes:
The Child Exploitation Internet Unit
The Child Exploitation Internet Unit investigates the sexual exploitation of children, which is facilitated through the use of the internet and telecommunication systems.
The Child Exploitation Internet Unit (CEIU):
- Conducts both proactive and reactive investigations to identify persons utilising the internet to groom and procure children for sexual exploitation
- Conducts investigations into the production, dissemination and possession of images of child sexual exploitation (child pornography) facilitated by the internet and telecommunication systems.
- Coordinates the NSW Police response to matters relating to child sexual exploitation referred from external law enforcement agencies.
- Provides assistance, specialist advice and technical support to State Crime Command and Local Area Commands relating to the investigation of child sexual exploitation facilitated by the internet or telecommunication systems.
- Assists with community awareness and education on the safe use of the internet.
- Maintains professional networks with other State, National and International Law Enforcement bodies and external agencies involved in the investigation of computer facilitated sexual exploitation of children.
- The CEIU also provides a Help Desk service.
Social Networking Sites and Police Advice
The following information has been provided to assist users and parents address some of the many issues and risks associated with using the internet. Due to the nature and speed at which the internet can change, this advice cannot be exhaustive. As these issues change frequently, the best defence is education - remaining aware of the vulnerabilities the internet presents.
Check the settings on your social networking page, change it so only those you know and trust can see anything about you. Check it regularly as the settings may be changed by the Host site. Be aware that even though your settings may be secure, your fiend’s settings may not be the same which can leave you vulnerable.
Review the profile you have placed on line. How much does it reveal about you and are you happy for everyone to know all this about you?
Don’t put your photo, contact details or your current school on your profile. If you need to, give these details out to people you know and trust. What you place on the internet is no longer private and is no longer under your control. Others may use it for any purpose they wish
Sending Images over the Phone
It is a criminal offence to take, transmit or possess images that are considered child pornography (of a person under 18 years) and may attract a penalty of up to 10 years gaol.
The consequences of taking private photographs of yourself and sending them could cause you and your family a great deal of embarrassment for a very long time. Once you have sent them you have no control of where they go or what they are used for. More importantly you can’t get them back even if you want to.
If you receive something inappropriate, don’t delete it and tell your parents or an adult that you trust as soon as possible. If you continue to receive this type of material, tell the sender to stop. If need be, change your phone number.
Parents - Learn From Your Children
Ask your child to show you what they look at on line, discuss the risks involved. Look at their profile and the list of friends. Are you comfortable with what is on display?
Access to social networking sites can also be done via mobile phones, it is important the skills are applied to all access, parents can’t be looking over their children’s shoulders all the time.
'Send' is Definite
Once you have hit the send button, all of your information is available for many to see. Depending on the material, this may be humiliating, causing embarrassment for you and your family.
The Internet is here to stay, we have to accept it and learn about its vulnerabilities.
It is common for cyber bullying to take place on social networking sites. Often cyber bullying escalates from conflict that begins in a school environment. The content of cyber bullying messages are taunting and insulting and often result with similar messages being sent back. While these matters cause a significant amount of stress and anxiety for the victims and parents, the actions rarely amount to a criminal offence. If you are being bullied on-line or by mobile phone:
- Tell your parents
- Tell your school
- Tell your site
- Tell the police if it escalates to threats of violence
The following sites offer further information and advice on these issues:
Or Google ‘NSW education cyber bullying’
Child Protection Register
The Child Protection Registry has been established to monitor and maintain the New South Wales Police Child Protection Register, as per the Child Protection (Offenders Registration) Act 2000.
Under this Act, persons convicted of a nominated violent or sexual offence against a child will be required to register at the police station in the locality in which they reside, within 28 days of sentencing, release from custody or entering NSW after being found guilty of a registrable offence in another jurisdiction. Registrable persons will be required to provide police with certain personal information, travel plans and any changes to this information. The period of registration is for a minimum of eight years for an adult, four years for a juvenile offender and it is an offence not to register or to provide police with false information.
The management of registrable information is coordinated by the Child Protection Registry, State Crime Command. The monitoring and investigation of registrable persons and offences under the Act will be undertaken by Local Area Commands (LACs) and the Sex Crimes Squad (SCS), State Crime Command.
NSW Police Force Child Wellbeing Unit
The Child Wellbeing Unit for NSWPF commenced on Sunday 24 January 2010. Police, along with Education, Health, and Human Services, have established Child Wellbeing Units to support frontline workers to help children who are in need but not at risk of significant harm. A total of 100 staff have been appointed to run the four units.
The role of the Police Child Wellbeing Unit is to help police officers identify whether a child is at risk of significant harm and therefore has to be referred to Community Services. If a child does not meet this new threshold, the Unit will help officers link the child and family to services and help from other government and community based agencies.
The new system is about sharing responsibility for keeping children safe across government agencies and the community so that more children and families get the support they need before they reach crisis point. Over 60 per cent of these reports are made by government agencies with over 30 per cent from Police alone, mainly due to domestic violence.
These reforms are part of’ Keep Them Safe,’ the Government's plan to reform the NSW child protection system following recommendations made by James Wood in his 2008 inquiry into the system.
The Police Child Wellbeing Unit is staffed by Child Wellbeing Assessment Officers. They have backgrounds and qualifications in child protection and include officers with UK child protection experience and qualified social workers. They will be supervised by team leaders with recent operational backgrounds who are experienced in domestic violence supervision and child protection.
The CWU is an internal service to NSWPF employees who are reporting children who do not meet the new risk of significant harm threshold.
For all urgent matters regarding a child at imminent risk of significant harm please phone the Child Protection Helpline on 132 111 or 000.