Nova Scotia

Nova Scotia to hire 2 more lawyers to prosecute online child exploitation

Nova Scotia will hire two Crown attorneys to focus on prosecuting online child exploitation cases.

Justice Minister Diana Whalen says move comes in part out of Rehtaeh Parsons case

Diana Whalen said the increase in cases meant the Justice Department needed more lawyers dedicated to combating online child exploitation. (Andrew Vaughan/The Canadian Press)

Nova Scotia will hire two more Crown attorneys to focus on prosecuting online child exploitation cases.

The government added $192,000 to the Nova Scotia Public Prosecution Services budget to add two lawyers to its existing pool of four at the Internet Child Exploitation (ICE) unit. 

"It's really because the number of cases is rising," Justice Minister Diana Whalen said Friday. "Right now we have 50 active prosecutions."

Halifax Regional Police have doubled child-exploitation arrests in recent years, she said. In 2013, they investigated 73 cases; they've seen 50 already this year. Whalen pointed out that's just one of the province's police forces.

Whalen said new charges such as child luring accounted for some of the increase, as well as increased reporting and ever-increasing use of the internet.

She said the crimes cause "a lot of harm to children."

The government said the hires will fulfill one of the recommendations Murray Segal set out after the Rehtaeh Parsons case.

Whalen said the dedicated prosecutors will have to keep on top of technology so they stay ahead of the perpetrators.

"It's very difficult, psychologically," Whalen said of the work. The RCMP rotates its officers on and off such cases, but the Crown needs dedicated lawyers.

The extra two lawyers will help the team share the burden, she said.

The attorneys will be in place by fall.