Starting next week, a special "community safety letter" will be mailed to the residence of any driver who is stopped by police while talking to prostitutes in certain Ottawa neighbourhoods, Ottawa police announced Tuesday.
"The letter is geared to inform the driver of the vehicle, the potential john, that their activity is not wanted in the concerned neighbourhood," said police Supt. Gilles Larochelle. "It's a letter that educates the individual."
The letter warns the driver that there is a "clear correlation" between street prostitution and drug use and that there are health concerns such as HIV and hepatitis. It also says community members are concerned about children finding used needles and condoms in playgrounds and about increased traffic.
Patrol officers have been told that if they witness a car that appears to be in a neighbourhood to solicit prostitutes, they should talk to and identify the driver. They should also make sure he was speaking with a prostitute, said Larochelle, who confirmed that speaking with a prostitute is not illegal. The letter would then be sent to the driver's home.
That concerns Jack Mackinnon, president of the Civil Liberties Association, National Capital Region.