Open Letter to BC Law Enforcement Regarding Operation Northern Spotlight

The Capacity Research Unit at the University of British Columbia is proud to support a recent initiative led by SWAN Vancouver Society. In the hopes of reducing BC law enforcement agencies participation in the ‘Operation Northern Spotlight’, SWAN has voiced their concerns through an open letter to the RCMP ‘E’ Division of BC. We welcome you to read the letter and participate in the initiative by raising awareness.

What is Operation Northern Spotlight? Operation Northern Spotlight is a project ill-conceived by Durham Regional Police in Ontario in 2014 to “rescue” sex workers from human trafficking by targeting and investigating them. Typically, police officers posing as clients set up dates online with sex workers, through websites like Craigslist and Backpage, then surprise them in hotel rooms. Since 2014, there have been five “waves” of Operation Northern Spotlight coordinated among law enforcement agencies across Canada. The latest campaign in October 2016 involved 53 police agencies in nine provinces working in conjunction with the FBI. Only a few law enforcement agencies in BC participated in 2015 and 2016.

Who is SWAN? SWAN, which stands for ‘Supporting Women’s Alternative Network’, is a Vancouver based organization that supports the health, safety and well-being of newcomer, migrant and immigrant women engaged in indoor sex work.

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