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Police gather intelligence on local sex trade

The Royal Newfoundland Constabulary (RNC) and the RCMP have completed an initiative to gather intelligence about the local sex trade and help sex trade workers who are forced into working in the industry.

Operation Northern Spotlight took place in early October whereby officers contacted sex trade workers in the St. John’s area. Nine women ranging in age from 23 to 35 were interviewed.

The women were offered support services including health care, outreach programs and mental health support.

The point of the operation was not to lay charges but to offer support. Indeed, no charges were laid as a result of Northern Spotlight.

The RNC says it has been active in implementing a number of initiatives to combat the exploitation of women. The constabulary is a member of the Community Partners Working Group which addresses the concerns and needs of people working in the sex trade.

Some of the other initiatives taken on by the RNC in the last two years have been establishing two liaison officers for the Safe Harbour Outreach Project (SHOP), as well as having SHOP provide training to frontline officers on how to interact with people in the sex trade industry.

The police are appealing to anyone who may be forced into working in the sex trade or who may know someone in such a situation to come forward.

Operation Northern Spotlight was inspired by a similar, FBI-led U.S. initiative, dubbed Operation Cross Country, which was launched in June 2008 to help combat the domestic sex trafficking of children.

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