The Nanaimo RCMP detachment. City councillors have approved two civilian police support positions that will assist RCMP in bringing child porn cases to the courts. (News Bulletin file photo)

The Nanaimo RCMP detachment. City councillors have approved two civilian police support positions that will assist RCMP in bringing child porn cases to the courts. (News Bulletin file photo)

Two new police staffers in Nanaimo will help get child porn cases to court

Nanaimo city councillors approve positions in 2021 budget

Two new support staff members will help Nanaimo RCMP be able to advance more child pornography cases to the court system.

Nanaimo city councillors, at a finance and audit meeting Friday, approved two new police support positions – digital forensic technician and major case file specialist – to be added to the budget.

Nanaimo RCMP Insp. Lisa Fletcher told councillors that the city has been aware of the need for the additional staff members since about 2017. She said there is currently a backlog of approximately 100 devices that need to be examined and private agencies can charge in the neighbourhood of $6,000 per device.

“Our prosecution rate and our successful investigation rate is one of the best in the province which is something I’m very proud of, because we are keeping young people who are being harmed safer. We are literally changing lives,” said Fletcher.

She said Nanaimo has hit a five-year high in child exploitation cases, factoring in both child sexual abuse and child porn possession, and said four more warrants were executed just last week. Generally, the Internet Child Exploitation Unit alerts detachments to file transfers and then it’s up to local law enforcement to investigate whether the case involves exchange of existing images and videos or ongoing production.

The work is “gut-wrenching,” Fletcher said. It’s hard for her to ask members to investigate certain type of cases when she knows “it’s not humane” to expose them, but at the same time knows that the crimes should not be happening to the victims.

“I’m trying to balance my care and compassion for members with the protection of children, and those are not easy choices,” Fletcher said.

She said a digital forensic specialist assisting with investigations and a major case file specialist who can prepare the data for the Crown to review will help officers who have been “overwhelmed with the stress of knowing that they had individuals that they could charge, but they couldn’t get it into the court.”

Nanaimo councillors voted unanimously to approve the positions. Coun. Tyler Brown and Mayor Leonard Krog mentioned how abuse and sexual trauma can impact lives in ways that lead to other social issues.

“Comparatively to other places, Nanaimo has one of the highest rates of child poverty and I think that does leave children vulnerable to this type of predation and it’s horrific,” said Coun. Ben Geselbracht.

Combined, the two new jobs will add 0.18 per cent to the projected property tax increase for 2021. Councillors voted to add four other City of Nanaimo staff positions at Friday’s meeting: manager of sustainability, buyer, municipal services inspector and project engineer. The projected property tax increase is 3.6 per cent and the public is invited to provide feedback about the 2021-25 financial plan at an e-town hall meeting Monday, Dec. 7, at 7 p.m.

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editor@nanaimobulletin.com

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