Eight charged with dozens of child abuse offences in WA

·1-min read
Richard Wainwright/AAP PHOTOS

Detectives have charged eight people accused of dozens of child exploitation and sexual assault offences after a five-day operation by the Western Australian Police Force's new child exploitation squad.

The alleged offenders are facing 89 charges, including sexually penetrating a child over 13 years and under 16 and indecently dealing with a child over 13 years and under 16, a spokeswoman said on Monday.

Detectives seized 104 electronic devices when the squad executed 15 search warrants across the Perth metropolitan area between May 1 and May 5.

The alleged offenders were also charged with intent to expose a person under 16 years to indecent matter, intent to procure a person under 16 years for sexual activity, made a threat to unlawfully do an act and distributing child exploitation material and possessing child exploitation material.

The arrests were made by the WA Police Force's new Child Exploitation Operations Squad, which has been tasked with identifying and rescuing children who are at risk of sexual exploitation, abuse or harm, and of repeat victimisation.

"The internet provides users with anonymity and accessibility, allowing offenders to interact and exploit children on a global scale," Detective Senior Sergeant Scott Johnson said.

"Organised criminal networks exist to promote and profit from child exploitation, meaning the demand for production and distribution of child exploitation material has grown exponentially and this translates to increasing numbers of real children being harmed.

The Australian Federal Police also executed warrants during the operation, with two men charged for allegedly accessing, possessing and transmitting child abuse material.

One of the men was also charged with producing child abuse material and inquiries in both matters remain ongoing.