Some small Sask. communities seeing rise in prostitution
In small town Saskatchewan, prostitutes aren't walking the streets but they're still working the scene.
According to police, the women use websites like Reginabackpage.com to advertise the dates they'll be travelling to town and setting up shop in hotels.
"They use social media as their medium to book clientele,” said Cst. Shane St. John of the Weyburn Police Service.
“So they're not out on the street in downtown Weyburn, you know, meeting clients. We don't see that at all. It's all behind closed doors."
Weyburn Mayor Debra Button says she first noticed the advertisements for service on Twitter about six months ago.
"I am concerned because I don't see this as a victimless crime,” she said. “And I'm concerned for the women."
Weyburn police have seen an increase in prostitution over the past year-and-a-half, and they say the problem isn't unique to "The Opportunity City." It’s also happening in other small Saskatchewan communities, including Estevan, Stoughton and Carlyle.
But changing legislation and Bill C-36 create a challenge for law enforcement. Despite knowing when and where these women will be, criminal charges are difficult to pursue.
“The bill is out and now we have to look at what are our enforcement options and such in relation with the new legislation,” said Estevan Police Chief Paul Ladoucer.
Police say it's the crime that accompanies prostitution that actually has the biggest impact on communities.
"The prostitution itself isn't a big thing we're dealing with – it's what comes with it,” said Cst. Shane. “There's some drug use, there's some mischief, there's some assaults, and the counterfeiting."
Organized crime in Estevan has reached the point where police are looking to tackle the problem head-on. The force is in the midst of creating a drug and intelligence unit to deal directly with drug activity and gather information on organized crime, including prostitution.
Based on a report by CTV Regina’s Tonaya Marr