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Police are warning parents in Far North Queensland to monitor their children’s social media use, after almost two dozen people were charged with child exploitation offences in less than a year.

Key points:

  • The charges relate to the making, distribution and sharing of child exploitation material, mostly through social media sites, including Snapchat and Facebook
  • Some of the 23 people charged lived in remote communities
  • Police have warned those sending illicit material that “we are coming for you”

The Cairns Joint Anti Child Exploitation Team, which is comprised of Australian Federal Police and Queensland Police, have charged 23 people — mostly locals — with 148 child exploitation offences since the joint agency was established in July last year.

Queensland Police Inspector Kevin Goan said the charges related to the making, distribution and sharing of child exploitation material, mostly through social media sites, including Snapchat and Facebook.

Australian Federal Police officers on the job

“The large body of offenders have been from within the Far North,” Inspector Goan said.

“The key messages that we have here, is that parents need to be aware of what their children are up to online, if they become aware of something that is of concern, they should come to police.”

Australian Federal Police Commander Hilda Sirec said the rate of child exploitation offences being committed in Far North Queensland was increasing, much of it via instant messaging on social media sites.

“It is really important to have those conversations with your children, make sure you know what your children are doing online, that they have privacy settings in place,” Commander Sirec said.

‘If you are sending illicit material, we are coming for you’

Commander Sirec said some of the 23 people charged lived in remote communities.

“Sexual online exploitation is borderless, it’s happening in remote communities, offshore,” she said.

“But no matter where you are, if you are exploiting children, if you are sending illicit material, we are coming for you.”

The high prevalence of child exploitation offences in the region led to the establishment of the Joint Agency Child Exploitation Team (JACET) in Cairns last year.

It is the only joint agency to operate outside of a capital city.

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By Davies

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