Community Safety Letters

On October 2, 2007, the Ottawa Police Service announced a new initiative to combat the prevalence of prostitution in area neighbourhoods.

The purpose of the Community Safety Letter is to reduce unwanted traffic and sensitize sex trade consumers and drug users of the impact of their illegal activity.

“It is known that anonymity is an important aspect of the sex trade and this letter acts to lift the veil on anonymity,” noted Ottawa Police Service, Central Division Superintendent, Gilles Larochelle. “Ottawa Police is introducing the Community Safety Letter to make sex trade consumers think twice about their actions and deter them from returning to these communities.”

The letter, tailored to each community where the incident occurs, is sent to the driver of any stopped vehicle visiting area neighborhoods for solicitation.

“We applaud the Ottawa Police's new initiative to fight prostitution,” noted Suzanne Valiquet, of Vanier B.I.A. “We need to do more to eliminate the customer in order to help women involved in the sex trade who are often victims of drug addiction.”

These communities have been victimized by sex trade activities and crack cocaine use in their neighbourhood, with crime (thefts), public nuisance, safety and security concerns. Consequently, the Ottawa Police Service has dedicated both resources and strategies to deal with these concerns.

“We fully endorse this creative strategy,” noted Pamela Connolly, Dalhousie-Somerset Safety Community representative. “Our community has no tolerance for cruising ‘johns’ and street level prostitution.”

The Community Safety Letter will not only act as a deterrent. We believe that it will also be an effective educational tool to raise awareness about the sex trade and crack cocaine use impact on our communities.

Qs & As about the Community Safety Letter program

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  • What is the Community Safety Letter program?

  • How does the police know who to send a Community Safety Letter to?

  • Can a community member call in a suspected “Johns” licence plate?

  • What happens if the owner of the vehicle was not driving the car but their licence plate number was reported?

  • Is the letter addressed to the owner of the car?

  • How is the letter delivered?

  • Are the letters being sent to home or work addresses?

  • Are you trying to shame or embarrass the individual?

  • Are you concerned about the privacy rights of individuals?

  • Are the community leaders aware of this program?

  • Do community leaders approve of this program?

  • Is there a need for this program?

  • What do you hope to accomplish with this program?

  • Is this program effective citywide?

  • Is street prostitution a problem in our city?

  • How will you measure the success of the program?

  • Are there other police services in Canada sending Community Safety Letters?

  • Will the program have any impact on the city’s crack cocaine issue?

  • What are you doing for the sex trade workers?