Multiple Winnipeg Police units and outreach workers activated ‘Project Return’ on Friday, June 15, with the aim of protecting youth who are at high risk of being sexually exploited.
StreetReach, Winnipeg Outreach Network, Resources Assistance for Youth (RAY), MaMaWi and the Bear Clan Patrol Inc were all involved with the WPS. The team effort resulted in:
- 8 missing, at risk youths were located. Each were transported to a place of safety (2 of these missing/high risk youths were arrested for outstanding warrants)
- 8 Crime Prevention through Social Development (CPTSD) contacts were made to identify and assist those involved in the sex trade
- 63 contacts of both youth and adults were made by partner agencies who provided various supplies including, Harm Reduction kits/Food and/or Clothing
- 55 locations, known to be frequented by high risk missing youths, were checked
- 14 referrals were made to partner agencies.
Staff Sgt. Darryl Ramkissoon said the collaborative project has been in existence since 2011 and is activated about three or four times a year.
He said the decision to act last week came from a higher number of kids having been reported missing than usual.
He added that there is often a spike in reports when warmer weather hits and school winds down.
The collaborative action was also run in March, with similar results.
Police said their commitment to issues surrounding missing youth and those at risk of sexual exploitation is an ongoing priority.