Four decades of hunting child predators

SD&G – The arm of the Ontario Provincial Police cracking down on child sexual predators is marking 40 years of work this week.

The unit, originally called “Project P” and now the O.P.P. Child Sexual Exploitation Unit, started with one investigator in Toronto.

Today, there are highly-trained teams from 26 police agencies working together as part of the Provincial Strategy to Protect Children from Sexual Abuse and Exploitation.

The unit has done its share of work in SD&G, where a Cornwall man will stand trial in 2016 on child pornography possession. Another Cornwall youth was convicted this year and given six months of house arrest.

This year alone, as of the end of October in Ontario, the O.P.P. Child Exploitation Unit and members of the provincial strategy have conducted over 5,000 investigations and laid 1,350 charges against 383 people.

There were 106 victims identified and referred to community support services.

O.P.P. Chief Superintendent Don Bell addressed this unit in Orillia, Ont. this week, acknowledging the difficult investigations and the toll it takes on the officers’ mental health and well-being.

The unit also promotes awareness for children and parents to watch for signs of abuse. You can get more information at the Canadian Center for Child Protection website.

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