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Ottawa police conduct summer prostitution sweeps

Johns targeted in undercover operation

Ottawa police continued their monthly prostitution sweeps with a two-day undercover operation in Centretown. A total of 14 people were arrested — 12 johns and two women, with 16 criminal charges and one provincial charge being laid.

Eight johns qualified for john school — a pre-charge diversion program that uses a restorative justice approach to educate johns on the effects of prostitution within communities.

The remaining six people were charged with offences that included prostitution, drug possession and mischief. One male was also charged with careless driving.

The undercover operation was conducted by Central West neighbourhood officers and was different from the usual sweeps, in that it targeted mainly johns rather than sex workers.

Sgt Michael Stoll of the Ottawa Police was the officer in charge of the operation.

“Sometimes we will do a john sweep more than a prostitution sweep because it is a little bit different operationally,” says Stoll.

The sweep follows the pattern the Ottawa police have used for the past two years. Acting on community feedback, they have routinely conducted two-day blitzes — roughly once a month — in downtown areas.

“As summer has come along, there have been more community complaints,” says Stoll. “Monthly is generally how we try to do them [prostitution sweeps]. If not, it’s every couple of months.”

According to Stoll, the regularity of the police sweeps are beneficial and they are helpful in cleaning up problem areas.

“I absolutely see the difference,” says Stoll. “I think we need to continue to do them, and I think it helps to certainly fix the problem in each different community.”