Victoria police raising awareness of human trafficking in the region
VICTORIA -- The Victoria Police Department is asking community members to be aware of potential human trafficking in the area after police conducted an outreach program in June.
Police say that in mid-June, officers and a counsellor launched a program which aimed to address human trafficking in the city.
The goal of the program, called “Project No More,” was to learn more about human trafficking in the region and to support potential victims of the crime.
In total, police met with eight sex-trade workers last month. Police arranged the meetings by contacting sex-trade workers through websites and scheduling appointments at hotels while posing as customers.
An officer and the counsellor would then wait at the hotel for a sex-trade worker to arrive. When the women arrived, they were told they were free to leave at any point and were under no obligation to speak with police.
VicPD says that many of the women decided to stay and speak with the officers and the counsellor.
Police say that the meetings gave the women a chance to receive information on support resources, as well as toiletries, clothes and gift cards for basic daily items.
Meanwhile, through the “Project No More” program, police say they learned that some of the women were coming to Victoria from across the country, some from as far away as Montreal and Toronto.
“This is not uncommon, as many victims of sexual exploitation travel on a circuit of major cities throughout Canada,” said VicPD in a release Thursday.
The youngest woman police spoke to was 18.
Police are asking that residents be aware of potential human trafficking in Victoria. Anyone who suspects that someone may be a victim of human trafficking is asked to contact VicPD at 250-995-7654.
Tips can also be made anonymously to Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-8477.