Charges laid against people caught soliciting prostitutes in Alberta plummeted in the first four months of 2014, even though the province is still supposed to be prosecuting these cases despite a landmark Supreme Court ruling.
In December, the Supreme Court struck down Canada’s key prostitution laws and gave Ottawa a year to rewrite them.
Some provinces decided not to pursue charges. But in February, Alberta deputy attorney general Kim Armstrong issued a directive to Crown prosecutors telling them to keep pursuing cases.
However, statistics suggest they won’t have as much to prosecute.
From January to April 2013, police laid 68 charges provincewide against people caught buying sex.
That number dropped dramatically in the first four months of 2014 — only four cases were initiated across the entire province.
For people who make money off prostitution, the number of charges dropped from 20 in the first four months of 2013, to five in the same period this year.
Jo-Ann McCartney, a former vice detective with Edmonton Police, says the Supreme Court decision is partly to blame. If laws are going to change, it may not be worth the time and effort to file the paperwork, she said.
“Our court systems are backlogged like crazy. So perhaps that's one of the reasons that they're not proceeding with many charges."
Armstrong and Justice Minister Jonathan Denis turned down interview requests from CBC News.
Justice spokeswoman Michelle Davio said that decisions on whether to lay charges are made by police and any questions should be directed to them.