(ORILLIA, ON) – Members of police services throughout Ontario, including the Peterborough Police Service, were able to ensure the safety of 6 people who had been working in the sex trade and were in exploitive situations, including 2 under the age of 16. Additionally, 12 people were charged with 21 offences as part of Operation Northern Spotlight, a coordinated, national effort to end human trafficking.
During Operation Northern Spotlight, police meet with individuals suspected of being in exploitive situations. They are provided contacts and information for community-based support agencies and are offered both immediate and future police assistance to leave the exploitation. The program is not intended to engage those who are not being exploited.
The Peterborough Police Service was one of 46 police services across Ontario, who over a seven-day period was involved in the project that saw 12 people were charged with 21 offences.
A total of 331 police officers, support staff and victim services engaged 198 people, as part of a joint effort coordinated by the Ontario Provincial Police. It was part of an international operation led by the Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI), RCMP and involved police services from Thailand, Indonesia, Philippines, Cambodia and the United Kingdom.
Eight officers with the Peterborough Police Service and City of Kawartha Lakes Police with one support staff engaged with eight local sex trade workers with one recovery. A recovery is when officers make contact and offer assistance and supports to a sex trade worker and that assistance is accepted. Supports include healthcare and housing.
“Ontario’s strategy to end human trafficking requires a community response including law enforcement, public health, housing and various other support agencies,” says Peterborough Police Service Staff Sergeant Neil Collins, Investigative Services.
“The Peterborough Police Service encourages anyone with information on suspected human trafficking to contact our police service.”