The Cobourg Police Service was one of 45 police services from across Ontario that participated in Operation Northern Spotlight, a coordinated, national effort to end human trafficking.
Over a four-day period, 13 officers with the Peterborough Police Service, City of Kawartha Lakes Police, Cobourg Police Service and the Peterborough County OPP worked jointly in making contact and speaking with 15 local sex trade workers.
During Operation Northern Spotlight, police met with individuals suspected of being in exploitative situations. They were provided contacts and information for community-based support agencies and were offered both immediate and future police assistance to leave the exploitation. The program is not intended to engage those who are not being exploited.
"The exploitation of our vulnerable in the sex trade is very much a real issue in Peterborough that requires a multi-partner and multi-jurisdictional response including law enforcement, housing and public health," says Sergeant Mark Elliott, Peterborough Police Service Criminal Investigation Unit.
"We encourage anyone with information on suspected human trafficking to contact our police service."
From the Ontario Provincial Police:
As a result of Operation Northern Spotlight, which occurred provincially over a seven day period, 45 police services throughout Ontario were able to ensure the safety of seven people who were in exploitative situations, including two under the age of 18.
Forty-five charges were laid against 15 people. A total of 317 police officers, support staff and victim services professionals engaged with 218 potential victims, as part of a joint effort coordinated by the Ontario Provincial Police (OPP). This was part of a national operation in partnership with the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP). Collaboration among police services is extremely important due to the multi-jurisdictional nature of human trafficking.
Of the seven victims identified:
- Two were recovered by Peel Regional Police Service
- One was recovered by Waterloo Regional Police Service
- Three were recovered by Ottawa Police Service
- One was recovered by Niagara Regional Police Service
Charges include: Obtaining Sexual Services for Consideration, Failure to Comply with Condition of Undertaking or Recognizance, Forcible Confinement, Trafficking in Persons, Material Benefit - Trafficking, Material Benefit from Sexual Services, Procuring, Assault with a Weapon, Aggravated Assault, Assault Causing Bodily Harm, Assault, Pointing a Firearm, Possession of a Weapon for Dangerous Purpose, Criminal Harassment, Uttering Threats, Failing to report contrary to Christopher's Law (Sex offender Registry), Fail to Comply with SOIRA Order, Identity Fraud, Obstruct a Public Officer or Peace Officer, Possession of Property Obtained by Crime, Youth Criminal Justice Act: 137 - Fail to Comply with Sentence or Disposition.
The following Ontario police services participated in this year’s Operation Northern Spotlight:
- Akwesasne Mohawk Police Service
- Barrie Police Service
- Belleville Police Service
- Brantford Police Service
- Brockville Police Service
- Chatham-Kent Police Service
- Cobourg Police Service
- Cornwall Community Police Service
- Dryden Police Service
- Durham Regional Police Service
- Greater Sudbury Police Service
- Guelph Police Service
- Halton Regional Police Service
- Hamilton Police Service
- City of Kawartha Lakes Police Service
- Kingston Police
- Lac Seul Police Service
- LaSalle Police Service
- London Police Service
- Niagara Regional Police Service
- North Bay Police Service
- Ontario Provincial Police
- Orangeville Police Service
- Ottawa Police Service
- Owen Sound Police Service
- Peel Regional Police
- Peterborough Police Service
- Port Hope Police Service
- Rama Police Service
- Royal Canadian Mounted Police
- Sarnia Police Service
- Saugeen Shores Police Service
- Sault Ste. Marie Police Service
- Smiths Falls Police Service
- South Simcoe Police Service
- Stratford Police Service
- Thunder Bay Police Service
- Timmins Police Service
- Toronto Police Service
- United Chiefs and Council of Mnidoo Mnising Anishaabe Police Service
- Waterloo Regional Police Service
- West Grey Police Service
- Windsor Police Service
- Woodstock Police Service
- York Regional Police