Montreal police change policy on prostitution

MONTREAL – City police announced a policy shift on prostitution on Monday, suggesting that in future, police officers will treat those in the sex trade as victims and not criminals.

Police said that Montreal is considered a hub for prostitution and human trafficking is considered by police to be the second largest criminal activity in Montreal after the illegal drug trade.

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Authorities also noted that most prostitutes in the city are victims of human trafficking and that 80 per cent of girls and women involved in human trafficking are from Montreal.

READ MORE: Thousands of runaway girls in Quebec vulnerable to trafficking

“Montrealers love to think that this [human trafficking] doesn’t happen here,” said Montreal police spokesperson, Ian Lafrenière.

“But this involves girls we know, that’s why we need to raise awareness.”

To address the issue, authorities have created a three-year action plan, intended to tackle the issue in five steps.

READ MORE: Police raid three massage parlours linked to human trafficking

It will involve a special unit that works with other local police forces, including officers in Laval, Longueuil and within the Quebec provincial police.

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The cost for the project has not been confirmed.

The initiative comes after a major crackdown on human trafficking in Quebec last year, and a promise from Montreal’s mayor Denis Coderre to crack down on massage parlours that act as a front for prostitution.

SPVM have launched an awareness campaign on the issue of human trafficking in Montreal. Martin Hazel/Global News

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