New supports for survivors of human trafficking

Edmonton/Calgary… Survivors of human trafficking now have new access to supports and community resources through the addition of new Safety Network Coordinators, embedded within ALERT Human Trafficking units.

Safety Network Coordinators have been added to ALERT’s Human Trafficking units in Edmonton and Calgary, courtesy of a collaborative undertaking by the Safer Way Out initiative, #NotInMyCity, and Calgary Police Service.

The new civilian positions are focused on building relationships and trust-supporting with the victims. Safety Network Coordinators are dedicated to providing support for human trafficking survivors by removing barriers towards exiting the sex industry, safety planning, and facilitating access to community support services.

Survivors are oftentimes identified through ALERT criminal investigations against their perpetrators, however, traditionally the victims lacked the vital link to support services. These new positions provide a compassionate and fulsome response to survivor supports.

The initiative has been underway in Edmonton since April 2021, with the Calgary position only recently hired. Through the initiative’s first six months, 17 exploited individuals have been helped with accessing safe places to stay, mental health resources, court assistance, and emotional support.

In one instance, ALERT was contacted after a sex industry worker was violently assaulted and was admitted to hospital. The Safety Network Coordinator provided short-term safety planning, along with other resources to support the survivor’s decision to leave the sex industry all together.

Survivors of sex trafficking can call 211 for help. To report suspected human trafficking, contact Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-TIPS (8477). Crime Stoppers is always anonymous.

ALERT’s Human Trafficking Counter Exploitation unit investigates human trafficking involving sexual exploitation occurring in Alberta. The integrated unit also works in collaboration with agencies and organizations involved in rescuing and supporting survivors of human trafficking and sexual exploitation.

Safer Way Out is a collaborative project by REACH Edmonton, Center to End All Sexual Exploitation (CEASE), Catholic Social Services, and ALERT.

#NotInMyCity is a facilitative organization launched by Paul Brandt that is raising awareness and taking collective action to prevent, disrupt and end sexual exploitation and trafficking, focusing on children and youth. The #NotInMyCity movement is working in alliance with key stakeholders, creating awareness, educating others and mobilizing a strategic, integrated plan to bring about transformational and sustainable change at all levels.

Quotes

“Together, with our partner agencies, we share a common goal of providing the best possible supports to survivors of human trafficking. This innovative approach promotes the integration of existing support services, which not only ensures a continuum of care for survivors, but allows ALERT investigators to remain steadfast in targeting perpetrators.”

– Supt. Dwyane Lakusta, CEO, ALERT

“We are pleased to be part of strengthening community and law enforcement capacity to respond more quickly to the immediate safety needs of those who are in sex trafficking situations.  We are confident that these initiatives can build on the safety supports that already exist, identify more that are needed, and work together to expand a network of services in Alberta.”

– Kate Quinn, Executive Director, CEASE

“We are pleased to be part of this important initiative. The Safety Network Coordinator positions are providing critical care and services in the moment, helping survivors of sexual exploitation and trafficking feel safe and supported.”

– Paul Brandt, Founder, #NotInMyCity

“Our investigators see firsthand the impact human trafficking can have on victims. The Calgary Police Service is proud to support the addition of Safety Network Coordinators as intrinsic partners in our investigations. It is essential that survivors are supported through these complex investigations.”

– Insp. Jason Bobrowich, Calgary Police Service

Members of the public who suspect drug or gang activity in their community can call local police, or contact Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-TIPS (8477).
Crime Stoppers is always anonymous.

ALERT was established and is funded by the Alberta Government and is a compilation of the province’s most sophisticated law enforcement resources committed to tackling serious and organized crime.