Canadian cops don’t need warrants to DM suspected child lurers — but they still seek more tools

The Supreme Court has ruled police are allowed to communicate online with anyone suspected of child luring - without a warrant. But as Mike Le Couteur reports, police say they still need more powers and resources to keep kids safe on the internet.

Canada’s highest court sided with police on Thursday, ruling that cops don’t need warrants when making contact with child luring suspects via email or instant-messaging services.

But law enforcement agencies say they still need more tools to protect kids from child predators.

On Thursday, the Supreme Court of Canada (SCC) ruled in favour of police in a case known as “ R. v. Mills .”

The case concerned Sean Patrick Mills, a Newfoundland man who arranged to meet with “Leann,” whom he believed to be a 14-year-old girl.

Leann, however, was actually a police officer who posed with that name online in an effort to catch child lurers working on the internet.

Though a win for police, Staff Sgt. Sharon Hanlon of the Ontario Provincial Police’s (OPP) child pornography and human trafficking unit said more needs to be done.

Virtual private networks (VPNs), for example, should be subject to Canada’s mandatory reporting laws, which compel internet service providers (ISPs) to contact authorities if they are notified about child exploitation material on their servers, she argued.

Those logs would include subscriber information that can help identify the potential offender or victim.

Staffing is also a major issue, Hanlon said.

The RCMP’s National Child Exploitation Coordination Centre received approximately 55,000 online child sex exploitation reports in 2018, a nearly 500 per cent increase from the 9,371 reports in 2013.

The deluge of reports has overwhelmed police departments.

“[Statistics] Canada has confirmed that this is probably the only crime type that hasn’t slowed down and we’re seeing an increase so we need to know find more resources and keep finding it,” Insp. Robert Lavoie of the RCMP’s National Child Exploitation Crimes Center said in an interview.

“We are going to miss victims and we’re going to miss suspects, period,” Staff Sgt. Hanlon said, bluntly.

That’s why police all over the world are looking to parents to help monitor where their kids are surfing on the internet, in order to prevent young people from being lured or exploited.
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