35 charged with possessing child pornography

THIRTY-FIVE people, including a 12-year-old boy, have been charged with possessing child pornography after a major police operation in Western Australia.

Since Saturday, police in Operation Karup Strike Force have raided nearly 50 homes across Perth and other parts of southern WA, seizing more than 200 computers, laptops, external hard drives and disks.

Seven teenagers and 28 men ranging from the unemployed to professionals are facing a total of 98 charges of possessing child pornography, police said today.

The material seized included nearly 20,000 images of young children and 2700 videos of “hardcore, graphic” sexual offences.

In one case, WA police seized about 1000 computer disks from a home.

Acting Detective Commander Graeme Castlehow said WA police officers responsible for reviewing and cataloguing the material found the process disturbing.

“It was quite confronting and I’m sure my officers are quite keen to take a break and do something different for a while,” Commander Castlehow said.

He said the fact that a 12-year-old boy allegedly had been involved in downloading and sharing child pornography was shocking.

“It’s quite shocking not only as a law enforcement officer but as a parent and a member of family,” he said.

The strike force operation used special software from the US to identify people sharing and downloading child pornography through peer-to-peer networks via the internet. Peer-to-peer file sharing programs such as BitTorrent, Kazaa and LimeWire allow the free trading of files from one computer to another anywhere in the world.

Commander Castlehow criticised such programs saying they were not doing enough in stopping the sharing of child pornography.

“We believe a lot more can be done to change these systems and improve these systems,” he said.

“Most of our peer-to-peer networks will be aware users of these systems are trading all sorts of files and in that mix are child pornography.”

Operation Karup will spread further into regional WA in the coming weeks with Commander Castlehow warning those who were sharing child pornography could expect a knock at the door.

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