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Sex trafficking remains ‘beyond under reported’ in Calgary: police

prostitution human trafficking sting police crime
FILE: A sex trade worker is pictured in downtown Vancouver, B.C., Wednesday, June, 3, 2014. Jonathan Hayward / The Canadian Press file

The Calgary Police Service (CPS) has released new sex trafficking statistics, saying 11 sexually exploited youth were apprehended so far this year.

In addition, police said in 2017 they have helped 11 adults exit the sex trade.

READ MORE: Calgary police charge Toronto man accused of forcing girlfriend into sex trade

In a Wednesday news release, Staff Sgt. Jason Walker said although year-over-year human trafficking numbers in Calgary haven’t increased, the issue remains a top priority for officers.

“These activities are beyond under-reported,” he said. “They are, by their very nature, intentionally suppressed and hidden.”

“Victims are often reluctant to self-identify or seek help, and in some cases research indicates that many cannot self-identify, as they are vulnerable and limited in their capacity to recognize that they are in fact being trafficked and sexually exploited to begin with.”

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READ MORE: The reality of sex workers in Canada: Vulnerable, unprotected and misunderstood

In 2016, 22 sexually exploited youth were apprehended and five adults left the sex trade with police assistance.

Police are asking Calgarians to keep their eyes open for potential signs of child sexual exploitation and human trafficking, including victims who:

  • Often do not speak English
  • Are kept isolated, watched, escorted or guarded
  • May be coached by others when answering questions
  • Afraid to seek help for fear of harm to themselves or their families
  • May be unaware of what city they are in
  • May try to protect their trafficker from detection and apprehension. They may develop loyalties and positive feelings towards their trafficker as a coping mechanism.

READ MORE: 26 ‘johns’ arrested and charged with obtaining sexual services in Edmonton

Anyone who may have information about incidents of human trafficking is asked to call the CPS non-emergency number at 403-266-1234.

Anyone involved in Calgary’s sex trade who would like help getting out is encouraged to call the CPS Counter Exploitation hotline at 403-428-8585.