When a Regina police vice unit operation identified three underage girls working as prostitutes, only one was willing to share her story with police so charges could be laid against those exploiting her.
In the other two cases, no legal action could be taken.
The Board of Police Commissioners says something needs to change. The point was made during a commissioners’ meeting Wednesday.
A sobering report was heard from Sgt. Darcy McDonald regarding underage and exploited prostitutes, and the challenges police have in securing their testimony.
“Human trafficking investigations are very complex, labour intensive, time consuming and very, very frustrating, because if we don’t get disclosure from the victim we have nothing,” the undercover officer said.
“We just have to return them back to their exploitive relationship.”
The three identified underaged prostitutes were aged 14, 15 and 16. Only the 14-year-old was willing to speak to police. The other two girls, McDonald said, have moved out of Regina.
“We still remain in contact with them,” he said. “Our hope and our goal is that one day they will disclose.”
What can be done
Councillor Barbara Young, who had requested the report, asked the officer what things might be done to begin to tackle the issue.
The officer said Alberta has centres where police can take exploited women that allows them an escape from their circumstances, a place to live and access to psychological services. Saskatchewan has no such centre, he said.
“The exploitive relationship these pimps or boyfriends have on the escort is — it’s unbelievable, they have such control over the girls.”
Police Chief Evan Bray said the issue has been discussed by a Regina human services partnership, alongside gang issues and homelessness.
“Like most things, we could talk about these things for years and nothing happens,” Young said. “So, I’m interested in seeing whether we can make some movement in this area.”
Young said she could see why girls wouldn’t offer police information if they had no safe place to go.
5 male officers
Five officers work on the vice unit. None of them are women. That fact caused Commissioner Gordon Selinger to voice concern.
“These young girls — they’ve been abused by men,” he said.
He said this might cause sex workers to be more guarded in their interaction with…