The Perth Police Services Board and Lanark County OPP are jointly hosting special guest speaker Simone Bell in Perth on March 6 to raise awareness about human trafficking and its local implications.
Bell is a survivor, speaker, peer support manager and social justice advocate. She was coerced into the sex trade by a young man and well-known criminal at the age of 21. Fear for the safety of those she loved and a crippling addiction kept her enslaved for a period of four years.
“Human trafficking does not require the crossing of borders or any movement of persons,” explains Lanark County OPP Detachment Commander Insp. Derek Needham. “Exploitation is the key element of the offence. It involves the recruitment, transportation or harbouring of persons for the purposes of exploitation, typically in the sex industry or for forced labour.”
Needham adds community partners and agencies in Lanark County and Smiths Falls are aware of human trafficking cases occurring here. “This is not something that happens only in cities. It is a local issue, too.”
Bell now trains police, social services and health care providers on the many aspects of human trafficking. In October 2015 she co-founded The Hope Found Project at Voice Found, which is a survivor-led program that assists victims of sexual exploitation and is the first of its kind in eastern Ontario.
Bell will be providing a training session for officers and speaking to students at Perth and District Collegiate Institute. A free session for the public is planned for Monday, March 6 at the Perth Civitan Club, 6787 County Road 43, from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m.
“We are very pleased to work with the OPP to bring this excellent speaker to our community so young people and the general public can learn more about the signs of exploitation and how to prevent or combat it,” says Perth Police Services Board Chair Jim Graff. “Education, awareness and prevention are key elements of community safety, which the PSB strives to enhance.”