News / Canada

Quebec announces mixed police force to fight sexual exploitation

MONTREAL — Quebec is budgeting $6.4 million over five years to create a special police unit dedicated to fighting sexual exploitation by targeting pimps and johns, the province's public security minister said Friday.

The squad will be composed of 25 investigators from police forces in Quebec cities including Montreal and nearby communities, Quebec City and Gatineau, as well as from the provincial police and RCMP, Martin Coiteux told a news conference.

"Pimps are going to have a very tough life in Quebec over the next few years," he told reporters.

Coiteux said the force will resemble the model used to investigate and prosecute organized crime.

Quebec's police forces have always been fighting sexual exploitation, he said, but pimps often move women from city to city, which he said necessitates a better co-ordinated response from police agencies.

He said he was told of the extent of the problem in 2016 when a series of young women escaped from youth centres around Montreal and were feared to be vulnerable to exploitation.

"A number of cases (of sexual exploitation) have been made public, and we know the problem is bigger than that," he said. "We don't have to wait to have comprehensive statistics to consider this is serious enough to act."

The sexual exploitation unit will be led by Montreal police and be headquartered in that city. Gatineau and Quebec City will have satellite bureaus.

Coiteux said the mixed squad will target pimps but also go after clients.

He added that individual police forces will contribute financially, bringing the total budget to $12 million over five years.


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