Sex workers face the possibility victimization when turning to police, Peers says. (File photo)

Victimization of sex workers by police ‘not irregular,’ B.C. advocacy group says

Peers Victoria Resource Society said less than five per cent of workers will report abuse to police

Power control issues between sex workers and police officers are not uncommon according to Peers Victoria Resource Society, a sex worker advocacy group.

“When we’re talking about sex workers reporting sexual violence to police, sometimes sex workers, not irregularly, face power control issues with police,” said Rachel Phillips, executive director of Peers. “Sometimes that means they are further sexually victimized by police.”

Phillips said this is a general trend for sex workers and not just a local occurrence.

READ MORE: Saanich police fired over corruption, relationship with sex worker was a constable

Recently, a report by the Office of the Police Complaint Commissioner revealed that an officer from the Saanich Police Department had been retroactively fired following 11 substantiated misconduct allegations in regards to an “inappropriate” relationship with a sex worker, including failing to conduct an adequate investigation into the complaint of a sexual assault and robbery

The officer was also found to have sent and received sexual text messages and images from a victim of a crime (though it was not specified if this person was a sex trade worker).

ALSO READ: Report shows Saanich police officer retroactively fired over corruption, deceit, relationship with sex worker

In the same report, two Oak Bay officers faced discipline, with one being dismissed, after allegations of using services of sex trade workers, possibly while on duty.

“To me it’s not a problem that an officer might have a relationship with someone in the industry,” Phillips said. “The problem is if there’s a conflict of interest with their role or abusing their power.”

READ MORE: Oak Bay police officer retires before being fired for hiring sex trade worker, watchdog says

Phillips said that because of power struggle issues, as well a legality issues around sex work, most workers will not go to police if they are facing problems.

“Of all the bad date and aggressor reports, probably less than five per cent of workers are willing to meet with police,” Phillips said. “People in the sex industry are structurally at odds with police because of criminal codes which say that sex work is wrong, so there’s a distrust amongst police services.”

Phillips said there’s also the problem of stigma against sex workers, as well as societal prejudice and racism.

“Some of our more marginalized people experience criminalization and poor treatment from police on multiple angles,” Phillips said, adding it was particularly bad with Indigenous workers. “Within certain sub populations, it’s a cultural problem.”

Phillips did note, however, that Peers and the Victoria Police Department are trying to foster a healthier relationship between officers and sex workers by utilizing two liaison officers who are women. While sex workers are still hesitant to speak with the officers, Phillips said there’s room for education and growth with that outreach.

“I think liaison relationships have to be grounded in a philosophy of support,” Phillips said. “Maybe Saanich in particular should consider getting liaison officers of their own.”

nicole.crescenzi@vicnews.com


Send a Tweet: @NicoleCrescenzi

Like us on Facebook  

Just Posted

Province announces $100-million grant funding for Northwest communities

The Northern Capital and Planning Grant will go to four regional districts and 22 municipalities

Prince Rupert Gas Transmission project searches for partners

TransCanada is renewing permits for its natural gas pipeline project to North Coast.

Coastal GasLink stops work to investigate archaeological find

OGC archaeologists are en route to the Houston-area site where Unist’ot’en report finding stone tools

All Native Basketball Tournament Day 5: Recap

Highlights and results from day 5 at the All Native Tournament

All Native Basketball Tournament Day 6: Preview

Look ahead to all the action scheduled for Feb. 16 at the All Native Tournament

B.C. students win Great Waters Challenge video contest

Video, mural and song about saving the salmon claims the top prize

B.C. athlete takes home gold in freestyle aerials at Canada Games

Brayden Kuroda won the event with a combined score of 121.65.

Cabinet likely to extend deadline to reconsider Trans Mountain pipeline

New round of consultations with Indigenous communities is coming

B.C. government provides $75,000 towards salmon study

Study looks at abundance and health of Pacific salmon in Gulf of Alaska

Murdered and missing honoured at Stolen Sisters Memorial March in B.C.

‘We come together to make change within the systems in our society’

UBC researchers develop inexpensive tool to test drinking water

The tricoder can test for biological contamination in real-time

Disgraced ex-Congressman Anthony Weiner released from prison

He was convicted of having illicit online contact with a 15-year-old North Carolina girl in 2017

B.C. communities push back against climate change damages campaign

Activists copying California case that was tossed out of court

Most Read