SALT LAKE CITY -- The Utah Attorney General's Office for the sixth year in a row leads the nation in arrests of those who download child pornography.
And it is seeing more cases of reported child abuse as well, said Attorney General Mark Shurtleff.
Shurtleff addressed the Executive Offices and Criminal Justice Joint Appropriations Subcommittee on Friday.
In 2010, the Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force arrested 169 people who were downloading child pornography, said Ken Wallentine, chief of law enforcement for the Utah Attorney General's Office.
That is the most arrests for one state in the country, he said, and for the past six years, Utah has arrested more people than any other state.
It is because of funding from the state Legislature that investigators can go after those who exploit children, Wallentine said.
For the 2011 fiscal year, the Utah Attorney General's Office received $221,300 from legislators but needs an additional $77,600 to cover expenses.
For the 2012 fiscal year, it also is asking for another $82,400, which the legislative fiscal analysts have recommended.
"There is more crime," Shurtleff said. "We have more kids, and as our population of kids keeps growing, the number of crimes (against children) keeps going up."
The Utah Attorney General's Office also oversees the guardian ad litem office, which provides legal counsel for children to protect their interests in juvenile court, whether it is a case of abuse or neglect or a part of custody actions.
In the past year, 42 attorneys in 13 locations in Utah have represented more than 14,000 children across the state, a 12 percent increase from two years ago, Shurtleff said.
Because of the 7 percent budget cuts to all state agencies' budgets, the guardian ad litem's base budget from the state's general fund has been cut about $352,000.
It had requested $5 million for 2012, but is now receiving about $4.7 million in general funds.
The Utah Attorney General's Office also oversees the funding for children's justice centers in the state. It is the second-largest division in the attorney's office.
The children's justice centers base budget for 2011-12 is about $2.7 million, a $201,500 decrease from 2010-11
Children's justice centers are located in Ogden, Farmington and Logan, the latter of which also provides services to Box Elder County.
The justice centers provide a child-friendly environment for interviewing and examining youths who may have been sexually or physically abused, Shurtleff said.
It also provides a place for prosecutors, police officers and social workers to meet to discuss cases.