The SPVM ESEC Unit (Exploitation sexuelle des enfants à des fins commerciales) was created as a pilot project in September 2002 and was, at that time, the first in North America. The purpose of the Unit was to better investigate the emerging phenomenon of sexual exploitation of children and aimed at minimizing the physical and psychological impact on the victims of these heinous acts.
"The commercial sexual exploitation of children can cause serious consequences, perpetuating and endangering the physical, psychological, spiritual, moral and social development of the children throughout their lives, including risks of early pregnancy, maternal death, injuries, delayed development, physical disabilities and STDs, including HIV / Aids. The Right of children to benefit from their childhood and to lead a productive, gratifying and worthwhile life will be seriously compromised1."
To form the ESEC team, the SPVM gathered together investigators from the morality, alcohol, and narcotics Sections from the four regions. Today, the ESEC has eight sergeant-detectives, an analyst and an Investigations Supervisor (lieutenant-detective); these police officers inquire into all ESEC crimes, such as child pornography, child prostitution and procurement, and any other connected crime.
Faced with the increasing complexity and investigations, the gravity of the crimes, as well as the need to specialize and better train the investigators, the SPVM decided in November 2007, to permanently set up a ESEC Unit. It is now called the Sexual Assault Section.
In partnership with justice institutions, health departments and organizations for the protection of children, the ESEC Unit was given the mandate to ensure the safety of children, prevent crimes related to the sexual exploitation of children, and seeking the perpetrators to bring them to justice through the laws enforced in Québec.2
Sharing expertise and partnership
Years later, the Unit's investigators developed an investigation expertise and methodology recognized throughout Canada and around the globe and the ESEC wants to develop and share more of its expertise with its partners throughout the world. In Canada, the Unit takes part in a national committee dealing with development of national strategies on Child pornography. It also hosts many presentations at seminars and conferences.
Among its many national and international partners are: the Sûreté du Québec, the National Child Exploitation Coordination Centre (NCECC), The Royal Canadian Mountain Police (RCMP), The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), U.S. Department of Homeland Security, Interpol, Europol and The Virtual Global Task Force (VGT).
It is the police officers of the ESEC, reinforced by training, who take the victims' statement. When there is clear evidence of the sexual exploitation of a minor, the SPVM police officers immediately inform the Direction de la protection de la jeunesse (DPJ) and the ESEC Unit.
1. Statement and Action Plan, First World Conference Against Commercial Sexual Exploitation of Children and Adolescents, Stockholm (Sweden), 1996, No 9.
2. Michelle Côté, Ph. D., anthropologist with the Service de police de la Ville de Montréal, Section recherche et planification stratégique.
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