H.E.A.T.Watch – Stop Human Exploitation and Trafficking

Alameda County H.E.A.T. Watch Tip Line: 1-510-208-4959.
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CSEC Protocol Recommendations

For the past several years, Oakland has been recognized as a local and national hub for child sex trafficking. In response, a Task Force was formed and CSEC Protocols were developed and adopted. The following Protocol recommendations were designed to enable public and private agencies that work with exploited youth to partner and respond to their specific needs while holding traffickers accountable:

  1. A designated agency representative(s) who will serve as the point-person for communication with other partner agencies regarding commercial sexual exploitation of children cases;
  2. Agency participation in CSEC related meetings and trainings;
  3. Compilation of data related to commercial sexual exploitation of children which documents the agency's response to identified exploited youth.

District Attorney’s Office

Prosecutors assigned to the Juvenile Division and prosecutors assigned to the Adult Prosecution Units should be designated to handle human trafficking and commercial sexual exploitation of youth cases, both in the Juvenile and Adult Divisions. Prosecutors should build strong partnerships with counterparts in other counties for multi-jurisdictional cases. If possible, these designees should also be responsible for all charging and data collection related to these cases. It is the policy of the Alameda County District Attorney’s Office that a victim-witness advocate should be assigned to the Prosecution Team to provide psycho-social and actual support to commercially sexually exploited youth and victims of human trafficking during the pendency of a case.

Victim-Witness Advocates can also assist with the processing and approval of Victim of Crime (VOC) funds that can provide necessary resources and funds to support the victim’s safety and continued recovery. All staff that interface with these cases should be trained in best practices for prosecuting commercial sexual exploitation of youth cases while ensuring the exploited youth receive necessary support.

*Through the advocacy of the Alameda County District Attorney’s Office, the California District Attorneys Association (CDAA) has created a Human Trafficking Committee which is made up of elected District Attorneys from around California as well as deputy district attorneys from the various 58 counties. The Human Trafficking Committee will create statewide, multi-disciplinary training and will review and submit legislative ideas for law changes. The Human Trafficking Committee of CDAA is chaired by the Alameda County District Attorney and its creation raises the level of attention and importance of this area of the law among all of California’s prosecutors.

Law Enforcement

Law enforcement can provide safety and recovery intervention for commercial sexual exploitation of youth by patrolling in known areas for domestic minor sex trafficking, by addressing immediate medical needs of exploited youth, by conducting thorough investigations and arresting exploiters and purchasers.

The Best Practice of Law Enforcement CSEC Protocol is to have a Victim Advocate, preferably a non-government Advocate who can assure confidential communication with the victim of human trafficking, such as a Rape Crisis Advocate or Human Trafficking Advocate, present when a victim of human trafficking is identified. By having a partnership with and the presence of a Victim Advocate, the victims’ non-investigatory needs can be addressed for which support is provided.

Absent actual physical presence of a Victim Advocate, it is critical for Law Enforcement to make a referral of the victim to a victim advocacy organization providing services to trafficked youth. Having a Victim Advocate present during interviews with the victims can also be essential for the advancement of the case and the care and well-being of the victim.

First Crisis Response Organizations (FCR’s)

FCR’s should provide victim/advocacy services as trafficked youth are identified and/or arrested. This may occur in the field at the time when exploited youth is detained by law enforcement or Juvenile Justice Center. These services should be immediate and ongoing.

The goal is to stabilize the youth and then provide comprehensive services, such as crisis counseling, educational classes, service referals, and advocacy for exploited youth so that their voice may be heard. In addition the FCR will also provide ongoing support to the victim if and when he or she is involved in the adult prosecution of the trafficker. In so doing the FCR will work with law enforcement, defense counsel, and members of the district attorney’s office to ensure the safety of the victim during the adult prosecution of the trafficker.

Probation Department

When an identified youth is taken into custody at the Juvenile Justice Center, Probation should consider the high risk factors in determining if detention is appropriate upon intake. In addition Probation should refer the identified youth to comprehensive medical and mental health care services. Probation should contact the designated FCR’s to ensure that their services are put into place. If the exploited youth remains in custody, Probation should take all reasonable steps to prevent the youth from engaging in communication with potential exploiters.

Juvenile Court

A gender-responsive approach should be taken by the court to address the unique challenges faced by girls in the juvenile justice system. To this end, a Girls Court should be established which has a dedicated prosecutor and public defender. A partnership should be formed between the Court, the District Attorney’s Office, Public Defender’s Office, Probation, and various service providers to sustain a dedicated courtroom where the goal is consistency and a thorough understanding of the challenges, needs and strengths of each girl referred to the court.

For assistance in developing CSEC protocol recommendations in your own community, email info@heatwatch.org.

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This website is supported in part by Grant No.90ZV0092 awarded by the Rescue and Restore Victims of Human Trafficking Regional Program, Anti-Trafficking In Persons Division, Office of Refugee Resettlement/ACF, Department of Health and Human Services. The contents on this website are solely the responsibility of the authors and do not necessarily represent the official views of HHS.