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The serious crime that has spiked during COVID-19

The serious crime that has spiked during COVID-19

Public tipoffs about online child sexual exploitation material have surged during the coronavirus pandemic, with authorities to say, statistically, every Australian would know an abuser.

Reports made by members of the public to the Australian Centre of Counter Child Exploitation (ACCCE) increased by 122 per cent as the country went into coronavirus lockdowns through April, May and June.

Only last week, over nine men faced court after Australian Federal Police (AFP) investigated against child exploitation. 

Speaking to the ABC, the coordinator of AFP forensics in NSW, Nathan Green, said people were spending more time online and meant offenders were spending more time with potential victims.

"The restrictions that COVID has brought in have resulted in families being locked up at home, and if in that family there happens to be an abuser it's fairly apparent what's going to happen," he said.

ACCCE has received 21,000 reports in the 12 months to July 2020, last year the number was 14,000 during the same time period.

Jennifer Garcia, a digital forensic examiner with the AFP, has never been busier, issuing back-to-back warrants around the clock in recent weeks.

In a single investigation conducted by Ms Garcia’s team has resulted in 40 children in NSW being rescued from abusive situations.

"They were children in direct harm, being sexually, physically or emotionally abused, or a combination of all three," she said.

In any given month the AFP’s digital forensics team in NSW could be dealing with 30 to 40 active investigations.