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Chilliwack RCMP crack down on sex trade

Police arrest 21 women in downtown crackdown. - RCMP Photo
Police arrest 21 women in downtown crackdown.
— image credit: RCMP Photo

Chilliwack RCMP have made 30 arrests of sex trade workers and suspected "Johns" in an effort to clean up the streets in the city's downtown core.

"Though some may argue that prostitution and patronizing a prostitute are victimless crimes, the police don't see it that way," RCMP Cpl. Tammy Hollingsworth said in a news release.

"No young girl grows up dreaming of doing this," she said. "Most of these street workers have had a rough life and are being exploited and degraded."

One of the 21 women arrested is 18 years old. Twenty of the women said they are addicted to drugs.

The oldest "John" is 82 years old. Each of the nine men were arrested after offering money for sexual services and are charged with communicating for the purpose of solicitation. They were released on promises to appear later in court, and ordered to stay out of the downtown core.

Over a five-week period, members of the Upper Fraser Valley Regional RCMP detachment's crime reduction unit (CRU) identified 52 possible sex trade workers conducting business in Chilliwack's downtown core.

A "Red Zone" identified by police, following concerns raised by local businesses and residents, stretches from Nowell Street to Williams Street and from Bole Avenue to Princess Avenue.

"Children going to and from the schools on Yale Road, merchants, and residents in the area had all expressed concerns over the number of sex trade workers lurking and working in the area," Hollingsworth said.

"After the identifications of the possible sex trade workers were made, CRU conducted a three-week project specifically focussing on prostitution and Johns in the area," she said.

"It's not only about the safety (of) the concerned citizens, but it is also a safety concern for the girls on the street," she said.

Six of the 21 women had been arrested for soliciting earlier during the first two weeks of the project, and arrested again for breaching court orders to stay out of the Red Zone.

Prostitution itself is not illegal, but soliciting - communicating for the purpose trading sex for money - is a criminal code offence.

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