Joint Waterloo-Guelph Human Trafficking Team Officially Launches

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Joint Waterloo Region-Guelph Wellington Human Trafficking Team Officially Launches

The joint Waterloo-Guelph Human Trafficking team has officially launched and will work to offer wraparound services to victims and survivors of human trafficking throughout Guelph, Wellington and Waterloo Region.

This joint initiative brings together partners from the Waterloo Regional Police Service (WRPS), the Guelph Police Service (GPS), Victim Services of Waterloo and Wellington/Guelph and the Waterloo Region Sexual Assault and Domestic Violence Treatment Centre to offer a holistic approach to human trafficking incidents.

“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. We are thrilled to have a member of our agency embedded in the new joint Human Trafficking Team to ensure a proactive approach and timely response to addressing human trafficking across Waterloo and Guelph. The collaborative efforts we envision with the members of this team will ensure better supported victims, thorough police investigations and streamlined care amongst our community partners,” said Bruce Moffat, Executive Director of the Victim Services Waterloo Region.

The team, which will be hosted by the Waterloo Regional Police Service, is made up of two investigators from the WRPS, one investigator from GPS, and a Human Trafficking Crisis Intervention Counsellor from Victim Services.

“This partnership will enhance services to victims of human trafficking, providing a seamless wrap-around service to individuals throughout our Region and Guelph/Wellington,” said Julia Manuel, Director of the Waterloo Region Sexual Assault and Domestic Violence Treatment Centre.

The goal of the collaborative team is to not only offer investigative services, but to offer counselling, emergency housing needs, medical needs, and basic supplies. St. John Ambulance will also provide therapy dogs to assist victims and survivors throughout the investigation and court process.

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

“The Waterloo Regional Police Service is proud to host the new Joint Waterloo-Guelph Human Trafficking team that will offer an enhanced response to human trafficking throughout Guelph, Wellington and Waterloo Region. Human trafficking knows no boundaries. The trauma caused to victims can sometimes be so harmful that they refuse to come forward to ask for help. 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,” said Waterloo Regional Police Service Chief Bryan Larkin.

The Joint Waterloo/Guelph Human Trafficking Team has been made possible through the Proceeds of Crime (POC) Front-Line Policing (FLP) Grant Program funding provided by the Ministry of the Solicitor General.

Human Trafficking – Sexual Exploitation – Know The Signs

Sexual Human Trafficking is defined as: "Every person who recruits, transports, transfers, holds, conceals or harbours a person, or exercises control, direction or influence over the movements of a person, for the purpose of sexually exploiting them or facilitating their sexual exploitation."

Human Trafficking for a sexual purpose is a heinous crime that can render the victim with horrifying physical, social and emotional scars.

Human trafficking is the second largest criminal industry in the world. Human trafficking is the exploitation, manipulation or control of a person (usually a female) by violence or threats of violence to provide a sexual service or forced labour.

You can help put an end to human trafficking. Help identify victims by knowing the signs. Victims may:

  • Be unable to present identity documents
  • Have no cell phone
  • Lack access to their own money and resources
  • Work excessively long hours with no or few days off
  • Not go out unaccompanied
  • Be branded with tattoos of the trafficker's name
  • Exhibit signs of chronic fear, guilt, shame, distrust of authority and the inability to make decisions
  • Have bruises and other signs of physical abuse.

Victims are alone, isolated and are trapped in a life of exploitation. They have no means to return home or any means to survive. The victim remains dependent on the trafficker for survival and believes the only way she can make money is through prostitution.

Know the Signs!

The following details may assist police in investigations:

  • Best details/descriptions of those involved
  • Locations
  • Nationalities
  • Details of any transport used
  • Travel routes/methods
  • Documents used
  • Any financial information
  • Method of recruitment
  • Methods used to control/manipulate victim.

Remember child trafficking is child abuse.

If you or someone you know is a victim of human trafficking, please contact Waterloo Regional Police at Intel.HT@wrps.on.ca or Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-8477.

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