Kawartha Lakes Police part of provincial human trafficking bust

By Roderick Benns

The City of Kawartha Lakes Police Service was one of 46 police services across Ontario, that over a seven-day period was involved in a project that saw 12 people charged with 21 offences centred on human trafficking.

Members of police services throughout Ontario, including the Peterborough Police Service, were able to ensure the safety of six people who had been working in the sex trade and were in exploitative situations, including two 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 met with individuals suspected of being in exploitative situations. They were provided contacts and information for community-based support agencies and were offered both immediate and future police assistance to leave the exploitation.

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 (OPP). It was part of an international operation led by the Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI), Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) and also involved police services from Thailand, Indonesia, Philippines, Cambodia and the United Kingdom.

Eight officers with the City of Kawartha Lakes Police and Peterborough Police with one support staff engaged eight local sex trade workers with one recovery. A recovery is when officers make contact and offer assistance and support 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 City of Kawartha Lakes Police encourages anyone with information on suspected human trafficking to contact police.

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