Tuesday, October 2, 2007

We don't want to embarrass anyone ...

Today’s Ottawa Citizen carries an article describing how Ottawa Police will start sending letters to the homes of anyone caught cruising the streets in an attempt to pick up a prostitute. The objective is to try and reduce the number of cars (i.e. men) cruising certain neighbourhoods looking for sex, and by extension, reduce the number of prostitutes working the area. Street prostitution and its associated drug trade have become a real blight on some neighbourhoods and need to be cleaned up, so any effort by the authorities to do so should be lauded. Whether this one will work or not remains to be seen.

However the issue I have with this program is not the program itself, but the spin being put on it. According to the Ottawa Police, the “community safety” letters are intended to inform and educate those individuals caught trawling of the potential health hazards of sex with prostitutes as well as the community impacts of excessive vehicular traffic.

"The letter clearly states their actions are a risk to the safety of the community." It is not meant to "shame" or "embarrass" anyone, said Supt. Larochelle.


If it was simply informational, the officer would hand a copy of the letter to the driver when he was originally stopped. The only reason to mail it to the driver’s home is in the hope that someone else (wife, mother, girlfriend) will see it, in which case shame or embarrassment will be the least of the suspected john’s worries. And perhaps that’s what it will finally take to get some men to stop, in which case the letter served its purpose.

But why can’t the Ottawa Police at least be honest about it? Call a spade a spade and be upfront about the intent and hoped-for outcomes instead of expecting us to buy into the public service/community safety spin.

No comments: