Nova Scotia sex workers questioned in human trafficking crackdown
Nova Scotia sex-trade workers said they won't stop after undercover police contact them online
Twelve Nova Scotia sex-trade workers were part of a national RCMP investigation designed, in part, to stop human trafficking.
Officers from 40 police services across the country met with sex trade workers to question them and discuss options.
"Human trafficking is a crime, unfortunately, that doesn't have borders so hence the national investigation," RCMP spokesperson Const. Mark Skinner said Thursday.
Sex workers contacted online by undercover officers
The investigation, called Operation Northern Spotlight, took place earlier this month and included 11 women and one man in Nova Scotia, who were contacted online by police officers posing as johns.
The undercover officers provided a hotel room number and questioned the prostitutes when they arrived, Skinner said.
The goal of their meeting was to make sure they were aware of the dangers of their profession, he said.
"Simply it was 'Hello, we are police. We know what business you're involved in and we'd like to give you some options in that respect. We want to make sure you're safe,'" Skinner said.
"So certainly there was a fostering and nurturing conversation to discuss options that person could have if in the future they chose to have a profession in a different capacity," he said.
Fewer sex-trade workers on the street
Very few sex-trade workers in Nova Scotia work at street corners, Skinner said. Instead, most now contact johns online.
Police said the prostitutes contacted in Halifax and in the greater Sydney area weren't cooperative with police.
"In the particular case of the six individuals in the Halifax area, they chose to continue their activity within the sex trade industry," Skinner said. "In Cape Breton, the same."
Police used the operation as a way to bring attention to the larger issue that people who work in the sex trade industry are very susceptible to human trafficking, he said.
Skinner said the prostitutes were provided with police and community support group resources that are available if they have a change of heart and decide to get out of the sex trade.
Police across the country made 47 arrests and laid charges for 137 offences as part of the operation.