ORILLIA–Members of police services throughout Ontario, including Manitoulin’s United Chiefs and Council of Mnidoo Mnising (UCCMM) Anishaabe Police Service, were able to ensure the safety of six people who had been working in the sex trade and were in exploitive 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 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.
Over a seven-day period, 46 police services across Ontario were involved and 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.
Charges include: Advertise Another Person’s Sexual Services, Possession of Property Obtained by Crime, Receive Material Benefit from Sexual Services, Keeping a Common Bawdy House, Procuring Material Benefit, Trafficking in Persons, Prohibited Weapon, Procuring a Person Under 18 Years of Age and Receive a Material Benefit Under 18 Years of Age.
The following Ontario police services participated in this year’s Operation Northern Spotlight: Amherstburg Police Service, Barrie Police Service, Belleville Police Service, Brantford Police Service, Brockville Police Service, Chatham-Kent Police Service, Cobourg Police Service, Cornwall Community Police Service, Deep River Police Service, Durham Regional Police Service, Halton Regional Police Service, Hamilton Police Service, City of Kawartha Lakes Police Service, Kingston Police, LaSalle Police Service, London Police Service, Midland Police Service, Niagara Regional Police Service, Nishnawbe-Aski Police Service, North Bay Police Service, Ontario Provincial Police (OPP), Orangeville Police Service, Ottawa Police Service, Owen Sound Police Service, Peel Regional Police, Peterborough Police Service, Port Hope Police Service, Rama Police Service, Sarnia Police Service, St. Thomas Police Service, Sault Ste. Marie Police Service, South Simcoe Police Service, Stratford Police Service, Strathroy-Caradoc Police Service, Greater Sudbury Police Service, Thunder Bay Police Service, Toronto Police Service, Treaty Three Police Service, United Chiefs and Council of Mnidoo Mnising Anishaabe Police Service, Waterloo Regional Police Service, West Grey Police Service, West Nipissing Police Service, Windsor Police Service, Woodstock Police Service and York Regional Police.
“Human trafficking is deplorable crime that threatens the safety, livelihood and dignity of those who are being exploited and abused,” Deputy Commissioner Rick BARNUM, OPP Investigations and Organized Crime. “This is a complex issue that affects some of the most vulnerable people in our society and does not recognize jurisdictional boundaries. It is our duty to act decisively and effectively to recognize and protect these people from exploitation and it is imperative that we have a concentrated effort amongst all our partners to be effective”.
“Operation Northern Spotlight is possible because of the multiple police organizations and victim service agencies working in partnership to stop human trafficking,” Inspector Tina Chalk, Electronic Crime Section, Anti-Human Trafficking Investigation Coordination Team. Our effort to assist people who are being exploited is our ongoing commitment.”