The DRPS is committed to the education, prevention and investigative practices surrounding human trafficking incidents and activities occurring within the Region.
Often referred to as sex slavery, human trafficking robs its victims of their most basic human rights. Traffickers control people in many ways, including psychological manipulation, emotional abuse, lies, addiction, threats, violence, isolation and taking control of identification and money. Survivors often need intensive, specialized services and support to rebuild their lives.
Human Trafficking is increasing within Durham Region, often along with Highway 401 corridor.
The DRPS Human Trafficking Unit was created in 2014 and is committed to investigating human trafficking related cases and focused on bringing awareness to the public about this growing issue. Officers are combating human trafficking through education and enforcement.
In 2017, officers conducted 55 public presentations and spoke to more than 2,600 Grade 9 girls in schools across Durham Region. Twenty-seven human trafficking cases were investigated with a total of 210 charges laid. Also, officers assisted partnering services throughout the GTA with 11 cases.
DRPS is a vital member of the Durham Region Human Trafficking Coalition, which is comprised of a number of community agencies that provide immediate support to victims. Durham Mental Health Services, Carea Community Health Centre, Durham Rape Crisis Centre, DRIVEN and SafeHope Home are among the coalition members.
DRPS has dealt with two types of human trafficking - labour and prostitution (also known as "The Game"). Women and girls as young as 14 are victimized. A trafficker can be male or female, known as a "Madam" or "Pimp." The Game is about making money from prostitution and it doesn't happen overnight, as the trafficker will first build trust during the "grooming stage."
As trust is being built in the grooming stage, the trafficker will shower the person with compliments, buy them gifts and tell him/her they "love them." The trafficker pretends to be their friend, boyfriend or girlfriend and is part of the recruitment for prostitution.
Recruitment can happen to anyone. Recruiting can occur at parties, shopping malls, clubs, bus stops, airports, train stations, social media, schools, youth centres and shelters. It is important to know and recognize the signs of "grooming."
Once a trafficker recruits a person into prostitution, the trafficker will begin the "isolation stage." The trafficker will isolate the person from their family and friends. To control the person the trafficker will:
- limit the contact the person has with their family and friends;
- listen to their phone calls, and read their text messages;
- remove the person from social media.
The trafficker will want to "own" the person and will escalate to violence to keep the control of him/her.
Possible Signs of a person at risk:
- Isolation from family and friends
- Become secretive
- Mood swings (change in attitude)
- New circle of friends
- More than one cell phone
- Change in style of dress
- Comes home later than usual
- Binge eating
- Possession of hotel room keys
- Carries condoms or sexual aids
- New tattoos (known as branding)
- Unexplained bruises/cuts
- Stockholm Syndrome: protective of the new "boyfriend" or "girlfriend"
- Possession of expensive items with no known source of income
**Disclosure: possible signs mentioned above are indicators to watch for but does not confirm the person is involved in prostitution**
Tips for Parents
- Monitor social media and internet use
- Stay current with apps and social sites their child is using
- Have conversations with your child about school
- Know your child's friends (not nicknames only)
- Know where your child is
- Talk to your child about strangers
- Educate your child on healthy relationships
Durham Regional Police would like to appeal to any person who may be involved in a similar situation or may know someone involved to come forward to police. DRPS takes these cases seriously and will conduct a thorough investigation, as well as protect the victims of this crime.
In Durham Region, DRPS has set up a Human Trafficking Hotline at 1-888-579-1520 ext. 4888. Police encourage the public to call this line with any information related to human trafficking or Crime Stoppers at 905-436-8477.
The DRPS remains committed to helping all victims and connecting them with community resources to support them.
Human Trafficking and Victim Resources in Durham Region
Durham Regional Police Service
In an emergency situation: Dial 911
Victim Services of Durham Region
Phone: 1-888-579-1520 ext. 3400
24-Hour Crisis Numbers
Durham Distress Centre
Durham Rape Crisis Centre
Kids Help Phone
Assaulted Women's Helpline
Bethesda House (24 hours)
Denise House (24 hours)
Crisis Line: 1-888-576-2997
Human Trafficking (JPG file, 96.1K bytes)