Sudbury Police say a new approach to prostitution in the city is helping some women.

Constable Stephane Brouillette said police used to make arrests when it came to the sex trade, but they now take a different approach when speaking with women on the street.

"[We try] to effectively listen to the girls’ issues and their problems in their lives,” he said. “And [we] try and offer services and try to reassure them and put them in contact with agencies."

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Sudbury constable Stephane Brouillette says police try to help prostitutes get off the streets, rather than arrest them. (Hilary Duff/CBC)

Brouillette spoke at a public meeting called Sex Work, Stigma and Access to Community Resources, which was held in Sudbury’s Donovan neighbourhood.

While there's still work to be done, police have managed to establish trust with some prostitutes and helped them get out of the sex trade, Brouillette said.

A former prostitute, Susan, said there were very few resources available to her when she tried to leave prostitution.

CBC News has agreed not to use Susan's real name to protect her identity.

Susan got into the sex trade in Toronto in her young teens after being sexually assaulted.

"And it became pretty clear to me that the only method of survival for young people, women, girls, was the selling of sex,” she said.

Susan eventually exited the trade after working in it for 3.5 years, but found it difficult to build a life afterwards.

Brouillette said police want women like Susan to go to them for help.

"We've been able to help those girls that want to exit the sex trade."

About 30 people attended the community meeting.