By Detective Senior Sergeant Chris O’Connor, Victoria Police and Vikki Petraitis
Victoria Police Chief Commissioner Neil Comrie was a senior sergeant back in the early 1980s. He had worked in the vice squad as a sergeant for a couple of years and his superiors appointed him to head a taskforce called Delta to determine if the rumblings in the community concerning organised child sexual abuse in the St Kilda area were true.
After just three months of operations and intelligence gathering, the detectives at Delta found that the extent of child sexual abuse and indeed child prostitution was bigger than anyone had imagined. A couple of early cases illustrated just what they were up against. One man regularly picked up dozens of young boys and photographed them compiling albums full of pornographic photos. When the offender was caught, Neil Comrie took the albums to his superiors. Police had never seen anything like it and it was an eye-opener.
Delta identified what was almost an epidemic of child sexual assault throughout the state of Victoria and when evidence like this emerged, resources were quickly allocated to this new area of criminal investigation. In 1984, the Child Exploitation Unit was established in Victoria to be followed soon after by similar squads in other states.