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Guelph and Waterloo Region launch joint anti-human trafficking team

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A joint human trafficking team has been launched in Guelph and Waterloo Region that is expected to offer wraparound service to victims and survivors.

The initiative brings together Waterloo police, Guelph police, Victim Services of Waterloo and Guelph/Wellington, and the Waterloo Region Sexual Assault and Domestic Violence Treatment Centre.

Read more: Ontario government announces programs to curb sex trafficking and educate youth

“Human trafficking knows no boundaries,” said Waterloo police Chief Bryan Larkin.

“This collaborative effort shows the importance of everyone working together to support victims and survivors to ensure they receive the help they need and to ensure we prevent future victims of this heinous crime.”

The team made up of two investigators from Waterloo Regional Police, one investigator with Guelph police, and a human trafficking crisis intervention counsellor from Victim Services.

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The idea is to offer a holistic approach to human trafficking investigations.

Along with investigating the crimes, the team will offer counselling, emergency housing needs, medical needs and supplies. St. John Ambulance will also provide therapy dogs to assist victims and survivors throughout the investigation and court process.

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The executive director of the Victim Services Waterloo Region, Bruce Moffat, said the organization is thrilled to have a member of their agency on the team.

“Having an advocate dedicated full-time to the needs of victims and survivors of human trafficking and their families has been a need of both Victim Services Waterloo Region and Wellington for quite some time,” he said.

Read more: Human-trafficking charges laid against Cambridge man

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The team was previously announced in August when the Ontario government announced over $537,000 in funding for three years.

“We are committed to working collaboratively with our community partners to eliminate the harmful impacts of these terrible crimes in our community,” said Guelph police Chief Gord Cobey. “We are thankful for the support and funding which has made this initiative possible.”

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