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Chief hopes new team will better address problem of exploited children, sex-trade workers

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Winnipeg's police chief is promising a new approach to combat men who exploit children and sex-trade workers.

Devon Clunis said traditional methods of special, one-off projects do not have a lasting impact.

"When we leave, the problem just persists," Clunis said.

Clunis told the Winnipeg Police Board this morning that he has merged the vice and missing persons unit into a new team – the counter exploitation unit, responsible for human trafficking, underage prostitution, and targeting individuals who exploit vulnerable people involved in the sex trade.

Board members Leslie Spillett applauded the move, explaining that Winnipeg is not considered a safe city for vulnerable women and young girls.

Clunis said the change came after a series of 12 community forums he held across the city, where a consistent message was a new approach is needed to deal with the sex trade.

The new unit’s main objective is the well-being of sex-trade workers, adding the unit is mandated to provide alternative solutions to victims, including putting them in touch with agencies which can help them safely get out of the sex trade.

"We want to stay on top of this issue, dealing with johns but also finding options for these young women who are being exploited, deal with this long-term to actually try to resolve this problem in our community," Clunis said.

 

aldo.santin@freepress..mb.ca

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