In 2022, the West Shore RCMP Serious Crime Unit conducted 39 investigations into the possession, distribution, and production of explicit images of children, an increase from 19 investigations in 2021.
Of the 39 investigations in 2022, five had charges laid, 25 are ongoing, and nine had insufficient evidence to proceed with charges. The 2021 investigations also had five charges laid, 12 investigations had insufficient evidence to proceed with charges, and two are ongoing. The two are in addition to the 25 from 2022, meaning there are 27 total investigations ongoing.
In a news release, the West Shore RCMP said these investigations make up the majority of the work of the serious crime unit, which also investigates offences like attempted murder and aggravated assault.
“The officers in the Serious Crime Unit are extremely dedicated and invest enormous effort into investigating these terrible crimes. Though the number of these investigations appears to be increasing year over year, the unit takes some comfort in these recent convictions,” Sgt. Thana Hodge with the West Shore RCMP Serious Crime Unit said in the release.
Investigations into these charges can take months to years to complete, as investigators almost always are required to obtain a production order — which is an order that requires someone to deliver or make documents in their possession available — search warrants, conduct surveillance, and work with tech crime specialists to analyze digital data, according to the West Shore RCMP.
Between September 2022 and February 2023, there were six convictions following these investigations by the department, in which the RCMP provided some information but did not provide names in order to protect the identity of the victims, outlined in the table below.
B.C.'s Ministry of Public Safety and Solicitor General and Canada's Department of Justice has made resources available for victims of crime at VictimsInfo.ca.