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Sex, gambling and drugs

Philippe Morin
Northern News Services

Yellowknife (Nov 27/06) - The Safe Communities and Neighbourhoods (SCAN) legislation has been proposed as an attempt to curb prostitution, illegal gambling, bootlegging and home-based drug sales in the NWT.
NNSL Photo/graphic

New legislation will look at ways to crackdown on criminal behaviour across the NWT. - NNSL file photo

Already in place

Manitoba (since 2002)

The Manitoba Department of Justice's Public Investigation Unit has a manager, three investigators and a registrar. There are plans to hire two more investigators next year.

In four years, there have been 1,368 complaints which and 198 evictions.

Saskatchewan (since 2005)

Over the past two years, there have been 174 evictions from the work of 778 investigations. Ten investigators are split between Regina and Saskatoon and there's a 2006/2007 budget of $913,000.

More meetings

Public consultations on the SCAN program have already been held in Yellowknife, Fort Smith, Norman Wells and Fort Good Hope.

Presentations will also be held in: Hay River, Nov. 27, 6-9 p.m. at Ptarmigan Inn; Fort Simpson, Nov. 29, 6-9 p.m. in the community hall; and, Behchoko (Rae-Edzo), Dec. 1, 1-3 p.m. at the community hall.

The deadline for all comments is Jan. 19, 2007 and the legislation could be before MLAs soon after that.

In the past 10 years, there have been 15 charges related to prostitution, including three in 2005.

These include running a bawdy house, procuring and other prostitution.

Staff Sgt. Sidney Gray of the Inuvik RCMP said RCMP are often hamstrung by the legal requirements of gathering evidence.

"Prostitution involves two people, so one of them has to talk," he said. "No matter what kind of surveillance we do, it's very hard to arrest Johns.

Illegal gambling

From 1995-2005, 11 gambling charges have been laid in the NWT. No charges were laid last year and just one in 2004.

These charges include running a betting house or gaming house, as well as other gambling offenses such as sports gambling.

Jeff Mackey, senior policy advisor with the NWT department of Justice, said running a gaming house does not mean a poker game between friends.

He said it must be institutionalized, and that the house must take a cut from all gambling.


Superintendent Rick Roy, RCMP Criminal Operations Officer for the NWT, said it's very hard to keep track of how many bootlegging charges are laid.

"A lot of those charges are under the Liquor Act and for different things," he said.

However, many mayors in the NWT, such as Fort McPherson mayor Rebecca Blake have said bootlegging is a serious problem, which is not being adequately addressed.

In an effort to combat bootlegging, Blake said, Fort McPherson recently decided to hold a plebiscite on alcohol restriction.

Drug dens and crack houses

The final category - and the biggest selling point of the SCAN legislation, according to Minister of Justice Brendan Bell -- would be its ability to shut down crime dens or crack houses.

In 2005, 438 drug-related charges were laid in the NWT, the most in the past 10 years. More than half of these offenses dealt with marijuana, and most charges were for possession, rather than production or trafficking.

In 2005, there were 137 charges for cocaine in the NWT, including 98 trafficking charges.