Partnering Against Human Trafficking

Sex Crimes
With Ontario being the major hub for human trafficking, the Toronto Police Service (TPS) and the Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) have combined to host a three-day international human trafficking training and awareness conference.

Speaking at the opening ceremony at the Fairmont Royal York on March 19, Chief Mark Saunders welcomed delegates and said partnerships are vital to ensure young people are not forced into prostitution, often into a cycle of violence and substance abuse.

“By having you in this room and having these types of meetings and understanding that these partnerships are going to be key to the success and how we do these investigations from start to finish, are what make this conference so significant,” he said.

Human Trafficking means every person who recruits, transports, transfers, receives, holds, conceals or harbours a person, or exercises control, direction or influence over the movements of a person, for the purpose of exploiting them or facilitating their exploitation, for a sexual purpose or a forced labour purpose. Victims can be men, women or children; can be Canadian citizens; and can be moved across local, provincial or national borders. They can be coerced through violence or the threat of violence against family and friends. The Human Trafficking Enforcement Team of Sex Crimes is dedicated to investigating these crimes against vulnerable members of society. For more information, please visit the Sex Crimes website.

The conference brought together law enforcement, financial institutions, the business community, victim support services and other stakeholders to increase awareness and co-ordination.

“With so many people from around the world here, this is a massive footprint,” said Saunders. “We do have those learned opportunities, here, which we capitalize on, which I think is so critical.”

The TPS and the OPP work very closely on various crime-prevention initiatives and investigations, including human trafficking.

“With human trafficking, there are no borders or boundaries,” said OPP Commissioner Vince Hawkes. “We have to do a better job from a law enforcement perspective and social service agencies to eliminate those boundaries and borders. In almost every one of those cases, there is a multi-jurisdictional aspect to it. As we know, offenders prey on victims in cities and towns, big and small.

“…Rest assured that law enforcement and police agencies have dedicated resources… As we know, there are an estimated 70 per cent of the reported cases in human trafficking in Ontario for the purpose of sexual exploitation and the majority of cases in Canada happen here in Ontario. The majority of survivors are Canadian citizens or permanent residents. Many of these victims, unfortunately, rarely identify themselves to police and that needs to change.”

Minister of Community Safety & Correctional Services Marie-France Lalonde thanked law enforcement for investigating the crimes, bringing the traffickers to justice and supporting the victims.

“Unfortunately, there is much more work that needs to be done,” she said.

Click here for more information on the conference

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