Summary of the Evaluation of the Expansion of the National Strategy for the Protection of Children from Sexual Exploitation on the Internet
About the Program
Online Child Sexual Exploitation (CSE) is one of the most serious public safety issues facing society. The Government of Canada launched the National Strategy for the Protection of Children from Sexual Exploitation on the Internet in 2004. The Strategy was subsequently renewed in 2009. Led by Public Safety Canada (PS), the Strategy provides a comprehensive, coordinated approach to enhancing the protection of children on the Internet and pursuing those who use technology to prey on them.
Investments from Budget 2019 have enabled the Expansion of the National Strategy to better protect children online. This funding is supporting PS efforts to raise awareness of this serious crime, reduce the stigma associated with reporting it, increase Canada’s ability to pursue and prosecute offenders, and work with digital industry to find new ways to combat the sexual exploitation of children online.
What We Examined
The purpose of the evaluation was to assess the extent to which the Expansion of the National Strategy for the Protection of Children from Sexual Exploitation on the Internet has achieved its expected outcomes and operated in an efficient manner. The scope included the 10 projects funded by the Expansion including four led by non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and six that focused on building local Internet Child Exploitation (ICE) unit capacity in police forces across Canada.
- The Expansion of the National Strategy has contributed to protecting children from online sexual exploitation. The funding of ICE units in 30 police agencies across Canada has increased capacity to complete investigations successfully and increased the likelihood of successful prosecutions. However, the number of CSE crimes is increasing which means that in most jurisdictions, backlogs of CSE cases have not been reduced.
- Strategy elements that predate the Expansion, such as Cybertip.ca and Project Arachnid, continue to achieve positive results. Since its launch in 2017, Project Arachnid has detected approximately 42 million suspect images and issued nearly 10 million removal notices to content providers.
- The projects funded by the Expansion have increased the knowledge and awareness of Canadians about CSE crimes and how to report them. The number of visits to Cybertip.ca has more than doubled in the last three years.
- Coordination and collaboration between stakeholders and international partners is an important aspect of addressing online CSE. PS has worked with partners and supported funded projects to connect with others.
- Published research shows that online CSE is highly gendered among victims (females) and perpetrators (males). A need was identified to enhance the understanding of vulnerable groups and at-risk populations of CSE through a Gender-based Analysis Plus (GBA Plus) lens and develop a consolidated GBA Plus strategy.
- The Strategy is supported by a Performance Measurement Framework. However, as of August 2021, aspects of the Performance Measurement Framework for the Strategy are under development and several indicators are without established data collection methodologies, baseline/target values, or outcome data.
The Assistant Deputy Minister, Crime Prevention Branch, should:
- Increase the priority placed on GBA Plus research to inform the Strategy.
- Refine the Performance Measurement Framework to ensure that the data can be collected and accurately reflects the impacts of the Strategy.
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