Web Story Wednesday
Police Hold Sex Trafficking Blitz
News Director – London - Scott Kitching
The Criminal Code may call it human trafficking, but London police say the public would be better off calling it sex slavery.
The London Police Service was part of a nation-wide blitz last week that focused on what it calls the growing concern that young women are being forced to take part in the sex trade.
Twenty-six police services across Canada participated in Operation Northern Spotlight on January 22 and 23. Officers interviewed more than 330 young women in hotels and motels in over 30 cities. Some of the women were as young as 15. Police found several teens and young women were being forced to participate in sex acts through threats of violence and other forms of coercion.
“Operation Northern Spotlight demonstrates the pervasiveness of Human Trafficking not only in London, but provincially and nationally,” says London Police Chief Brad Duncan. “To effectively detect and eliminate Human Trafficking in our community we must dedicate sufficient investigative and intelligence resources to continue our multi-jurisdictional approach to this exploitative crime.”
During the operation, London police officers spoke with seven young women, ranging in age from 16-22. Officers came across a man from the York Region, who was with an 18 year old woman.
He was arrested on outstanding warrants related to human trafficking. Police say, although it appeared the woman was being forced to participate, she refused to co-operate with officers.
Megan Walker, Executive Director of the London Abused Women’s Centre, says that’s not surprising.
“Pimps often threaten women. They may threaten that, if they co-operate with police, their family may be hurt or other things could happen,” says Walker. “And because pimps aren’t held for very long in jail, when the pimp is released, they will face the wrath of the pimp. There’s great fear involved for women that may want to escape.”
London police have adopted an approach to human trafficking that, Walker says, is very encouraging. She points to the investment of resources in a “High Risk Police Officer” who works with prostituted women on the streets of London and efforts to help women leave the sex trade.
All of the women interviewed during Operation Northern Spotlight were offered support services.
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