Vernon-North Okanagan RCMP take aim at sex trade industry

Six Johns, Six Janes arrested in fall crackdown by local RCMP detachment

The Vernon-North Okanagan RCMP detachment has been cracking down on the local sex trade industry.

The initiative came as result of numerous complaints from the public.

“The sex trade was very open and active in Vernon, primarily within a specific area of the downtown core,” said RCMP spokesperson Gord Molendyk. “These activities led to numerous complaints by concerned citizens and elected officials. The complaints lead to investigations of assaults, property, and mischief related crimes in the area.”

In September, efforts were directed towards the consumers or “Johns.”

A total of six men were arrested for communication for the purpose of prostitution and subsequently released for future court dates.

Each of the accused is provided an opportunity to attend a seminar commonly referred to as John School, a seminar paid for by the accused, and if they successfully complete the course charges will not be forwarded to Crown counsel.

“The intent is to change the behavior of these men,” said Molendyk.

In October, officers’ efforts were directed towards the sex trade workers or “Janes.”

Six women were arrested for communication for the purpose of prostitution.

“The focus of our investigation was to connect the woman with community resources in our city,” said Molendyk.

“Representatives from Interior Health met with each one of them as part of our community mobilization to provide information relating to community services available to the women for the purpose of assisting them in locating the resources like food, and shelter to enable them to make healthily changes in their lifestyle.”

The women will be given the chance to attend a workshop with the Now Society, a sex workers alternative program based out of Kelowna. The program is to assist them in acquiring access to a support network to re-build their lives.

Molendyk said the local detachment has a duty to investigate and disrupt the sex trade activity because of complaints and safety concerns.

“In part it was to identify those involved on both sides of the industry,” said Molendyk. “It is one of the tools we utilize to disrupt the illicit sex trade. We use it in conjunction with other efforts, including working with partner agencies to meet the overall objectives of: reducing the impact that the illicit sex trade has on public safety in our community.”