A REGIONAL Victorian man is among 10 people charged as part of an ongoing police operation targeting the sharing of child abuse material through online peer networks.
Police raided 30 addresses as part of the state-wide investigation into sharing child abuse material on Peer 2 Peer networks.
Detectives say this has been a growing trend during the pandemic, urging anyone with information about child abuse material to contact Crime Stoppers.
Ten people have been charges so far, with state and commonwealth offences including possessing, accessing and making available child abuse material.
A further 17 people have been interviewed by police and released pending further enquiries, or with the intent to charge on summons. Five investigations have also been referred interstate.
A 76-year-old regional Victorian was among those charged, with one count of possession of child material and one count of accessing child abuse material.
Among the other people charged were men from Langwarrin, Mooroolbark, the north eastern suburbs, the northern suburbs and the south eastern suburbs. Police also charged some with firearms offences.
One 52-year-old man from the south eastern suburbs was allegedly found in possession of more than 317,000 child abuse files.
Victoria Police has flagged more raids and charges in the coming months.
Finance and Cyber Crime Division Detective Superintendent Jane Welsh said police saw an increasing amount of child abuse material shared on P2P networks and other platforms during the pandemic.
Detective Superintendent Welsh said more people online meant more opportunities for unwanted contact.
She urged caregivers to have open and honest conversations with their children, to protect them online.
The arrests form part of a statewide operation including detectives from the Joint Anti-Child Exploitation Team, local Sexual Offence and Child Abuse Investigation Teams, crime investigation units and Australian Federal Police.
JACET detectives have worked with other specialist investigators within the Finance and Cyber Crime Division, to identify those responsible for hosting and sharing child abuse material, as well as analysing a growing number of electronic devices seized under warrant.
Police asked anyone with information about child abuse material to contact Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000, or make a confidential report online at crimestoppersvic.com.au.
They said anyone who suspects a child is in immediate danger should contact triple zero, or local police.
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