The Winnipeg Police Service has formed a two-person team to work with the community to address issues concerning the sex trade.
Police say the pair will promote "the development of trusting relationships" between police, sex trade workers and community members.
The team will be part of the force’s counter exploitation unit, formerly the vice unit.
"I have had the opportunity to hear from the community regarding the sex trade and those being sexually exploited," police Chief Devon Clunis said in a news release. "Certainly there is more we can do with respect to active enforcement, but the real opportunity here is for closer connections and co-operation with community stakeholders as we tackle this issue."
The nine-person counter exploitation unit will focus on:
- enforcement related to the sex trade in Winnipeg including street prostitution, underage prostitution, escorts and agencies, common bawdy houses and massage parlours;
- human trafficking; and
- Liquor Control Act offences, ticket scalping and illegal gaming.
Between June and September of this year, police arrested 53 men for communicating for the purposes of engaging in prostitution. The arrests resulted in 34 vehicles being seized by officers. An additional 140 potential exploiters were identified and interviewed by officers patrolling in areas well known for prostitution activities.