The rate of police-reported child pornography incidents jumped 23% in 2020, Statistics Canada said July 27.
B.C. in general and Vancouver in particular saw the biggest increases in the country, numbers indicate.
“Circumstances of the pandemic have been noted as potentially exacerbating the conditions for victimization, especially with children and youth spending more time online,” the annual crime rate report said.
The federal agency said in 2020, police reported 2,178 more incidents than in 2019 .
Nationally, the rate rose to 29 incidents per 100,000 population and follows a 47% increase in 2019, part of an upward trend seen since 2008.
The majority of the national increase was due to more incidents in British Columbia (+1,465 incidents, +44% rate) and Quebec (+417 incidents, +30% rate).
Among the provinces, most reported increases in the rate of child pornography incidents from 2019 to 2020, including Prince Edward Island (+4%), Nova Scotia (+55%), New Brunswick (+81%), Quebec (+30%), Ontario (+2%), Manitoba (+32%) and British Columbia (+44%).
Among the metropolitan areas, Vancouver (+870 incidents), Montréal (+351 incidents), Winnipeg (+144 incidents) and Victoria (+129 incidents) reported the largest increases in the number of child pornography violations. Together, the four metropolitan areas represented 75% of the increase in incidents in child pornography from 2019 to 2020.
According to Cybertip.ca, Canada’s national tip line for reporting child sexual exploitation online, more than four million exploitation reports have been processed between 2002 and 2020, the vast majority of which were reported from 2017 onward.
As in 2019, these particularly large increases in total child pornography incidents may be attributed in part to an increase in the number of cases forwarded to police services by the RCMP’s National Child Exploitation Coordination Centre.
Part of the increase in British Columbia could be the result of work initiated by the British Columbia Behavioural Sciences Group – Integrated Child Exploitation Unit (BSG) in 2014. The BSG uses software developed by the Child Rescue Coalition to identify computers located in the province used to access or share child pornography on the Internet, from which they could open an investigation.
In 2020, there were over 7,200 cybercrime-related child pornography violations, up 35% from 5,375 violations in 2019.