Pressure on street-based prostitution must remain, say Calgary police

Deputy Chief Murray Stooke says there is now better co-ordination between the police and social agencies to deal with prostitution, but he warns Calgary must maintain pressure on street prostitution to see less of it.

Beltline and Forest Lawn cited as main spots for street prostitution

Calgary stakeholder react to proposed new federal prostitution laws. 3:19

Deputy Chief Murray Stooke says there is now better co-ordination between police and social agencies in Calgary to deal with prostitution.

"In Europe for example where there's an absence of enforcement, there is a much larger growth of street-based prostitution. The same thing is really true in Calgary. We need to maintain pressure on street-based prostitution if we want to see less of it."

Marina Giacomin of Servants Anonymous, a group that helps sex workers leave that life behind, likes the co-ordinated approach that's forming between the police and social agencies.

"I think between city services and social agencies, all along the harm reduction spectrum as well as EXIT, it provides us an opportunity to outreach more to those that might be involved in indoor sex work," said Giacomin.

A report prepared for city hall says up to 3,000 people are working in the Calgary sex trade.

The report, which involved public consultations, was presented to city councillors on Wednesday.

It says the two main areas of street prostitution are in the Beltline and Forest Lawn.

Target the buyers, says councillor

Ward 10 Coun. Andre Chabot wants tougher intervention to help the sex trade workers.

He would also like to see police target the buyers.

"It has negative implications to the adjacent residents and anything I can do to minimize that or eliminate it if at all possible, is something I'll continue to push for."

As part of the consultation, two police officials and a city employee visited three European countries this spring to examine the effects of targeting prostitutes' customers instead of the prostitutes.

Federal legislation 

The Calgary report was presented to council on the same day federal justice minister Peter MacKay presented new proposed federal prostitution laws in Ottawa.

Deputy Police Chief Stooke says it's too early to tell what impact the new laws will have.

The City of Calgary's overall prostitution strategy in response to the new federal legislation is expected to be made public later this year.