the following warning is being issued by the Canadian Alliance for Sex Work Law Reform.


The VPD are not participating in this action. The Burnaby RCMP and Richmond RCMP are also not likely to take part ( I am waiting to hear from them) but other cities in the lower mainland in particular where there are RCMP detachments are, are at risk. So be vigilant and if your spidey sense is tingling, trust your instinct!!!

October 2018

Operation Northern Spotlight is an anti-trafficking initiative carried out by police and other law enforcement every year. Police target predominantly female sex workers at hotels, motels, massage parlours and other places where sex workers work. They do this in an attempt to “rescue trafficked or under 18s in the sex industry.” Even though police will tell you they are seeking victims, they often treat sex workers like criminals.

When? The Operation takes place annually during for 3-4 days in the first weeks of October. Other similar Operations take place throughout the year.

Where? Anywhere in Canada.

What can you expect? To gain access to sex workers, police and law enforcement may pose as a client booking an appointment or they may show up alone or in groups of 2-4 to an indoor location where sex workers are working. They may or may not show identification when they are invited into the room, and they may only reveal who they are after sometime into an appointment. Armed police officers will ask questions such as if you have been forced to work, what you do on the job, how much you earn, how you spend your money, where you live, about boyfriends or other men in your life or work, if you have thought about working at something else, among other questions. Sex workers have had various experiences with these operations, though most have reported to us that they find them intimidating. Others may not find this intimidating and just answer questions and move on. How you feel about the presence of police in your workspace is typically dependent on your history and your social positioning. Most sex workers tell us that this operation has not only negatively affected their immediate sources of income, but also compromised their health and safety. News reporters may also be present to ask you questions.

What are your rights?

You can ask the officers if you are under arrest or being detained. If not, the general rule is that you have no obligation to identify yourself to the police, or to answer any other questions. This can be difficult, however, for some sex workers who know that not providing information may cause more trouble with police. Some people panic and talk to police because they fear staying silent makes them look guilty. Your silence cannot incriminate you, but your statement might. Be aware that police may identify as “Victims Support Unit”, and may say they are going to help you. They may, however, later use your statement against you (e.g., for a criminal investigation or for Canada Border Service Agency). Even if you are arrested, you have the fundamental right to say nothing else until you speak with a lawyer. If you choose to speak to the police, share the least amount of information as possible. With reporters, you are under no obligation to answer any of their questions.

What can you do?

Make a plan in advance:

* Know the law and your rights

* Think about who you should call – try to memorize these number as you may be denied or delayed in accessing a phone

* Other tips found in these documents may be helpful for sex workers:

o Who is Who? (Butterfly Asian and Migrant Sex Worker Advocacy Network) Helps to identify which law enforcement is visiting you and what their powers are

o Police Powers, Incall and Outcall (Stella, l’amie de Maimie) o Working in Canada Without Canadian Citizenship:

As usual, trust your gut! If you have an odd feeling about a date and can afford it, err on the side of caution and don’t book it. We will let you know when the stings are over and you can resume working normally.

If you happen to get caught up in this sting, please call your local sex work organizations listed below, and share as much detail as you can remember.

Groups available for sex workers to reach out to about Operation Northern Spotlight:

Canada wide: Canadian Alliance for Sex Work Law Reform, [email protected] Sex Professional of Canada (SPOC), [email protected] 647-829-7320 EDMONTON: PIECE Edmonton, [email protected] LONDON: Safe Space, 96 Rectory Unit A [email protected]

TORONTO: Butterfly (Asian and Migrant Sex Workers Support Network ), 416-906-3098 / [email protected]

MONTREAL : Stella, l’amie de Maimie, 514-285-8889, [email protected] or [email protected] SUDBURY: Sex Workers Advisory Network of Sudbury (SWANS), [email protected], Tracy Gregory, 705-280-8005 [email protected]

VANCOUVER SWAN Vancouver: [email protected], 604 719 6343 (English)/778 865 6343 (Chinese)