Tuesday, February 2, 1999

Alberta launches tough law on child prostitution

EDMONTON — As a new provincial law designed to curb child prostitution kicks in today in Alberta, police and social workers are optimistic they've got an effective tool to combat a serious problem.

The Protection of Children Involved in Prostitution Act lets police take minors off the streets without consent for 72 hours for assessment and counselling, and increases the penalties for johns and pimps to a maximum of two years in jail, a $25,000 fine, or both — in addition to Criminal Code charges.

Gov't, social and crime agencies today discuss new protections for child prostitutes. Bob Dean, chair of Edmonton's police commission, expects the higher penalties to provoke second thoughts among the people who fuel the child sex trade.

"I think that might have a tendency to keep people from doing the funny things that they do," Dean told CBC News.

And taking kids off the streets, Dean says, may help them leave for good.

A former member of Calgary's vice squad warns that the risk of having their workers taken into custody may prompt pimps to hide the youths in "trick pads." But Ross MacInnes, now executive director of Street Teams, a program to get young prostitutes off the streets, says all in all the act should be effective.

This afternoon, the province, police and community agencies are holding a news conference in hopes of getting the word out to the public about the new act.

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Created: December 6, 2000
Last modified: January 19, 2001
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