A BRITISH tourist who arranged to meet a 13-year-old Sydney girl after sexually explicit conversations online has been charged with child exploitation offences.
Last week, officers attached to Strike Force Trawler began engaging online with a man visiting Australia from the United Kingdom.
The man believed he was communicating with a 13-year-old girl and following several sexually explicit conversations, he told “her” he was driving down the coast from Cairns and made arrangements to meet her when he arrived in Sydney.
A 34-year-old man was arrested by strike force officers at Westmead, in Sydney’s west, shortly after 11am on Friday.
They also searched a campervan and seized a number of items for forensic examination.
The man has been charged with the use of a carriage service to procure persons under 16.
The strike force is run by the Sex Crimes Squad’s Child Exploitation internet Unit, which conducts ongoing investigations into the sexual abuse and exploitation of children online.
Squad Commander Detective Superintendent Linda Howlett says the arrest is a timely reminder for parents and carers to speak with young people about the dangers of talking to strangers online.
“While the online environment allows us to be better connected with people we know, it also provides opportunity for people we don’t know to connect with us — and this includes strangers talking to our children,” Det Supt Howlett said. “We know that sexual predators use social media and other online platforms to target children and it is imperative that children know what to do if they are exposed to explicit or inappropriate conversations.
“It is common for young people to feel uncomfortable reporting these types of conversations, so I urge parents to make sure they let their children know they don’t need to be embarrassed or upset — no one will judge you.
“Our priority is tracking down people who use the internet to groom and procure children for sex. We want to make sure we protect children from any type of harm.”
Strike Force Trawler is an ongoing investigation by the unit into the sexual abuse and exploitation of children through the internet and related telecommunications devices.