London police to start naming 'johns' to fight human trafficking
Published Thursday, February 21, 2019 2:13PM EST Last Updated Thursday, February 21, 2019 5:34PM EST
At a London Police Services Board meeting on Thursday, Chief John Pare announced a new initiative to help combat human trafficking.
Police are expected to start releasing the names of suspects alleged to have paid for sex, which contributes to human trafficking in the city.
The board heard that the city is a centre for human trafficking, where women and children are routinely forced or manipulated into sexual enslavement at the hands of pimps and organized crime.
So now those arrested for purchasing sex can expect to see their names posted online.
Pare says, “Information will go out through regular means, media release and on our website and Twitter and Facebook.”
However, the names will only be released when the law allows it.
Pare says it's hoped the move will affect demand and enhance public safety, while encouraging people to make better choices.
The London Abused Women’s Centre emphasizes that all purchasing of sex is illegal in Canada, and says London will be among a small number of police services in the country to release names in hopes of curbing demand.
Executive director Megan Walker says, “We’ll stop their behaviour in London, Ontario and their families will find out, their children, their workplace. We think that’s a big step forward.”
But what happens if charges are dropped or a suspect is found not guilty in the courts?
On the possible legal liability of releasing the names before a conviction Pare says, “The legislation speaks to the discretion the chief has when an individual is charged.”
He adds that human trafficking is a very serious crime with vulnerable victims. Like other crimes when names are released, in Ontario 25 per cent of the victims are under the age of 18.
A public awareness campaign will be launched soon warning potential sex purchasers that their names could be released.
The decision follows 'naming and shaming' strategies being implemented at a number of Ontario police forces for alleged impaired drivers.