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‘We want to build trust’: Calgary Police Service unveils new hotline to protect sex workers

The Calgary Police Service has partnered with a local non-profit to further protect sex workers.

CPS announced the start of a new phone line, which sex workers will anonymously use to report harmful situations.

The Bad Date Line is a reporting system for sex workers in which they can report bad dates, incidents of violence, and other safety concerns. This information will only be used to target individuals causing sex workers harm, and will not be used to target sex workers.

A dedicated phone number and email address have been created specifically for this reporting system. The reports will be monitored by CPS officers in District 4, which covers one of the last locations for Calgary’s prostitution strolls. They dedicated phone number (403-816-9400) and email address (baddate@calgarypolice.ca) has been created for individuals to report their information to the police in a less formalized way.

CPS partnered up with HER Victory, a Canadian non-profit dedicated to supporting and protecting women that are being sexually exploited, fleeing crisis, or are victims of domestic violence.

HER Victory was founded by Jacquie Meyer, the current program coordinator for the non-profit. Jacquie has dedicated her life to assisting women in crisis and helping them get out of abusive and violent situations.

“We want to thank the Calgary Police Service for their initiative to further protect those facing exploitation in our city,” said Meyer.

“Together, this will enable those caught in the sex trade to confidentially report incidents, create safe working spaces, and reduce the gap between victims and police. Sexual violence is frequently underreported, this creates a safe and effective way for individuals to disclose information and receive support.”

Building trust

Shelby Stewart, Acting Staff Sergeant for District 4, believes that this system could be a bridge between the workers and CPS.

“I think within our district, we identified a need to work on building some of those relationships with women in the sex trade. One of the biggest barriers we often face is trust,” she said.

“By working closely with the Victory Church and creating this reporting system, we’re hoping to start building that trust to allow more women to come forward.”

She believes that the system being anonymous will push more workers to disclose their experiences.

“I think that anonymous reporting helps women to feel more comfortable coming forward with something that they’re not ready to fully discuss, but feel that it’s something that we should be aware of,” she said.

“Often times with women in the sex trade, there is a mistrust of police. That mistrust can come from any previous interactions with police or any trauma that they’ve experienced throughout their lives. By taking a community-based approach to this project, we believe that we can make a meaningful connection and help them come forward.”

The Bad Date Line and email address will not be monitored 24/7. Anyone in immediate danger should contact 9-1-1.