By Sarah Klein
Winnipeg police have introduced a two-person team to work solely on addressing issues related to the sex trade in the city.
The dedicated team will foster relationships with sex trade workers and promote the development of trusting relationships between police, sex trade workers and community members.
The creation of the team is part of a larger effort by police to tackle important issues through the creation of the counter exploitation unit.
“I have had the opportunity to hear from the community regarding the sex trade and those being sexually exploited,” said police Chief Devon Clunis. “Certainly there is more we can do with respect to active enforcement, but the real opportunity here is for closer connections and co-operation with community stakeholders as we tackle this issue.”
The nine-member unit, previously known as the vice unit, will focus on:
- Enforcement related to the sex trade in Winnipeg including street prostitution, underage prostitution, escorts and agencies common bawdy houses and massage parlours
- Human trafficking
- Liquor Control Act offences, ticket scalping and illegal gaming
Police arrested 53 men between June and September of this year for communicating for the purposes of engaging in prostitution. These arrests resulted in 34 vehicles being seized by officers. An additional 140 potential exploiters were identified and interviewed by officers patrolling in areas well known for prostitution activities.