Law lets police seize johns' cars
Police officers now have the power to seize the vehicles of people trying to buy sex on the street, after MLAs unanimously passed legislation Monday.
The bill, sponsored by former Calgary police officer Harvey Cenaiko, allows the vehicle to be seized when a charge is laid.
It provides for the vehicle's return if the accused agrees to enrol in "john school," an alternative measures program that illustrates the problems associated with prostitution. But that's only an option for a first offence.
"It would appear there has been some concern raised by people who live in the field as to whether or not the bill would hurt the security of some of the people working on the street, but I think the overall consensus is it's a good measure to try and take prostitution off the street," Attorney General Dave Hancock said.
The province's police services like the bill, which is similar to legislation already in place in Manitoba and Saskatchewan. But Edmonton Staff Sgt. Chris Hayden says there are still details that need to be worked out, such as where the vehicles go once they're seized.
It's not known when the law will take effect.
Rima Devitt, with the Community Action Project in north-central Edmonton, says the new law will help get prostitution off their residential streets.
"I think it sends them a message: stay out of our neighbourhood. I think it's just another deterrent to hopefully keep them off the streets and hopefully make them think twice before they decide to buy sex in our neighbourhood," she said.
But the Alberta Civil Liberties Association has concerns about the bill.
"Some people will go into the alternative measures program in order to get back their car, regardless if they are guilty," Steven Jenuth said, adding he doesn't think seizing cars will solve the problem of prostitution.