Combating Human Trafficking Along The 401 Corridor

London police say they are just starting to scratch the surface of human trafficking crimes taking place in the city.

In less than the span of a month, officers have rescued two women being prostituted in London, and across the province, allegedly by the same man.

Investigators say the city’s location along the Hwy. 401 corridor means when sex workers are brought into the city they do not stay for long.

“What you see happening in Toronto and what you hear about happening in Windsor, there are pieces of it that hit London just because we’re right on the route,” says London Police Sergeant Tyler Cowan, who notes the mobilization of victims makes it harder to reach out to them. “We may identify somebody here in London who has come out of Hamilton, for instance. So, one of the piece there would be that we’d have a conversation here, but then we’d want to make Hamilton Police Service aware of our connection here and then maybe, between those two police services, you start to build a positive relationship.”

Cowan tells it is hard to tell how prevalent the issue is in the city or how much progress is being made due to nature of the crimes and the geographical area in which they take place.

“There isn’t a common story,” says Cowan, when speaking about the victims of human trafficking. “You do see frequently that some of these young women come from situations that aren’t necessarily all positive, whether they’ve left home at a young age or there may be a dependency issue there.”

He says often when human trafficking is taking place it is linked to other criminal behaviour.

London police launched a pilot project in 2013 to specifically focus of human trafficking crimes. Since then, one officer has been dedicated to reaching out to sex workers in the city on a monthly basis.

Cowan notes police reach out to about ten sex workers every month to offer support.