Nova Scotia businesses asked to keep an eye out for human trafficking
Human trafficking can take place in any community, large or small, police say
Nova Scotia police agencies have launched a campaign called Say Something if you See Something, asking local businesses to be on the lookout for human trafficking activities.
The program is aimed at frontline workers in the hospitality and transportation industries, said Const. Tammy Lobb, with the RCMP and Halifax Regional Police vice unit.
The Halifax International Airport, Halifax Taxi Services, MaritimeBus and Nova Scotia Hotel Association are involved in the campaign already, she said.
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"The whole point of this campaign is we know human trafficking is occurring in hotels, right from the budget hotels right up to higher-end luxury hotels and resorts, as well as in air and ground transportation," she said."
"[We're] reaching out to frontline employees who work in these industries and educating them on what the signs are and what to look for and who might be a potential trafficker.
"If they notice some of these signs — talk to their manager, talk to their supervisor, place that call, call it into the police department and those complaints will be followed up on, usually immediately."
Signs to look for
The program was rolled out before a group of hotel employees Thursday, Lobb said.
There are some signs, which in totality, could tip off a front desk worker that the property is being used for human trafficking, she said.
"Are they reluctant to use a credit card, insist on paying cash for a number of days? How many rooms? A lot of times when we're doing investigations, we find out they are using two rooms — one room actually to stay in and one room to work out of," she said.
"Quite often they might want rooms down the hallway, secluded from other guests … near an exterior entrance or exit."
There are also key indicators when transportation is being arranged to move a victim from place to place, Lobb said.
"The victim would be exhibiting signs of being intimidated, while the other person, the trafficker, would be doing most of the talking. They are the ones paying for it. Maybe the flight would be booked last minute. And they would clearly be the person in control. There may be an age difference."
Lobb also pointed out that traffickers can be male, female, older and younger. Charges laid in the last two years in the Halifax area have included women and youths as young as 16.
Program started in U.K.
Canadian law defines human trafficking as an offence that involves controlling, forcing, intimidating or deceiving a person of any age for sexual exploitation or forced labour.
Say Something if you See Something was originally launched in the United Kingdom and versions of the campaign have since been rolled out in communities in Canada and the United States, the release said.
Local businesses receive a free kit that includes posters advising people that human trafficking and sexual exploitation is a crime, as well as brochures that outline what employees should look out for and how they should respond if they believe human trafficking or sexual exploitation is occurring.
Local partners in Say Something if you See Something include: Stepping Stone, Avalon Sexual Assault Centre, Nova Scotia Status of Women, Nova Scotia Sexual Violence Strategy, Mi'kmaq Native Friendship Centre and other victim services organizations.