Human trafficking, sex crimes still high on priority list for CK police

(© Can Stock Photo / webking)

The number of sex offenders in Chatham-Kent has increased by three.

Chatham-Kent Police Service reported 267 male and two female local sex offenders registered on the Ontario Sex Offender Registry.

Police said some sex offenders have moved away but the number increased in 2020 due to offenders being released from custodial sentences or new offenders being convicted and moving into the Chatham-Kent area.

A 2020 police report, released on Tuesday, showed that at the time the report was written there were three active offenders who were not in compliance with their reporting obligations and an arrest warrant had been issued for two of the offenders, while the other is in end-of-life care.

Police said three offenders were arrested last year and charged for not reporting to police every year.

The annual report also showed the number of reported child abuse cases in 2020 decreased significantly. Investigators believe the reduction is due to COVID-19 and school closures, which dramatically affects the opportunities for children to disclose abuse.

“We continue to encourage victims and their families to report abuse and trust the Justice System to provide them with at least a small sense of peace and comfort,” read the report. “We will continue to be a source of support along with the Chatham-Kent Children’s Services and Chatham-Kent Victims Services.”

The number of child abuse investigations dropped from 58 in 2019 to 36 last year and police laid 21 charges against eight people compared with 38 charges against 15 people the previous year.

In 2020, 25 child pornography and internet child exploitation charges were laid against 11 people, which is an increase from the previous year, according to police.

Police also said two human trafficking arrests were made in the municipality last year and there were 16 charges laid.

“There have been several occurrences in the Chatham-Kent area which support the belief that human trafficking is, and has been, prevalent in this area. These occurrences have primarily involved people who are transient and do not reside in Chatham-Kent,” police said. “These people are also linked to not only human trafficking offences, but other related offences, such as drugs, violence, organized crime, etc.”

Police noted that they continue to take a proactive approach to stop human trafficking from becoming a significant problem in Chatham-Kent by monitoring websites, educating the community about recognizing potential victims of human trafficking, and creating placards for hotels and businesses showing common warning signs and signs to look for of potential victims to ensure that they can provide support to identified victims of human trafficking.