Countering Exploitation in Calgary
The Calgary Police Service and partner agencies continue to address exploitation in Calgary.
In the first half of 2017, the CPS Counter Exploitation Team has apprehended 11 sexually-exploited youth, and assisted 11 adults in exiting the sex trade through the Prostitution Exit Initiative. In 2016, there were 22 sexually-exploited youth apprehended, and five adults who utilized the resources of the Prostitution Exit Initiative.
Although there has not been an increase year-over-year, human trafficking and exploitation remains a priority for the CPS Counter Exploitation Team.
“Illicit elements of the sex trade, including human trafficking and child sexual exploitation are year-round activities in Calgary,” says Staff Sgt. Jason Walker. “These activities are beyond under reported. They are, by their very nature, intentionally suppressed and hidden. Victims are often reluctant to self-identify or seek help, and in some cases research indicates that many cannot self-identify, as they are vulnerable and limited in their capacity to recognize that they are in fact being trafficked and sexually exploited to begin with.”
In the summer months, with a significant spike in outdoor activities, tourism and public events, there is an increased potential for all Calgarians to assist with recognizing potential signs of child sexual exploitation and human trafficking. Victim characteristics can include:
- Often do not speak English;
- Are kept isolated, watched, escorted or guarded;
- May be coached by others when answering questions;
- Afraid to seek help for fear of harm to themselves or their families;
- May be unaware of what city they are in; and
- May try to protect their trafficker from detection and apprehension. They may develop loyalties and positive feelings towards their trafficker as a coping mechanism.
“The illicit elements of the sex trade are not victimless crimes, and in the course of enforcement activities, ignorance of an exploited victim’s age will not indemnify offenders from being charged with child sexual exploitation,” says Staff Sgt. Walker.
The CPS Prostitution Exit Initiative provides immediate help for adults who wish to leave the sex trade. Anyone in the sex trade who finds themselves giving money to someone else; trading sex for drugs, a place to stay or food; or feels like they have no options, is encouraged to call the Counter Exploitation hotline at 403-428-8585.
“You have a right to be safe.”
Anyone who may have information about incidents of human trafficking are asked to call the CPS non-emergency number at 403-266-1234.