Tools for Residents and Businesses

Public Litter

The litter associated with sex work, particularly street-based sex work, is the source of much of the tension and conflict in the community. The presence of condoms, condom wrappers and drug paraphernalia outside and around businesses, residences and playgrounds not only creates a distasteful mess that people need to clean up, but also affects the health and safety of the area. It is often the debris associated with sex work, and not sex work itself that residents and businesses are concerned about. Discarded mattresses, often perceived to be associated with street-level sex work, are left in alleys and make it difficult for business or residents to access their properties.

City Mattress Removal: Phone 311

Needle Pick-up: Call 604-657-6561 or e-mail:

For more information, click here

What to do if you find a used needle

Call the above line for pick up or if you do decide to pickup a needle, it is important to dispose of them promptly and carefully.

  • Use a pair of tongs or pliers, or a pair of thick leather gloves, to pick up these items.
  • Discard condoms in a plastic bag.
  • Discard syringes or needles in a puncture-proof container, preferably one intended for such purposes. Any plastic or metal container with a lid, such as a coffee can, will also do. Do not place these containers in your recycling bin.
  • When you have finished, wash your hands carefully with soap and warm water.

Teach children to NEVER touch needles, syringes or condoms, and to tell an adult immediately if they have found one.

What to do if you prick yourself with a dirty needle

  • If possible, put the injury below your heart to promote bleeding. Do not squeeze and do not put in your mouth.
  • Wash the area well with soap and water.
  • Do not soak the wound in bleach.
  • Go to the nearest local health unit or hospital emergency department immediately for care.

*Remember* All blood and body fluids from any person are potentially infectious.

For more information, call HealthLink BC to speak with a registered nurse any time, every day of the year.

Call 8-1-1 toll-free in B.C.

For the deaf and hearing-impaired, call 7-1-1. Translation services are available in more than 130 languages.

To learn more about contact with blood or body fluids, see HealthLinkBC File #97 Contact with Blood or Body Fluids: Protecting Against Infection.

For more health topics, visit the HealthLinkBC Files web page, or visit your local public health unit.

If a Crime has Been Commited

Emergency: 911

When an immediate response from police, fire or ambulance service is required, call 911. If you or others are in danger or there is a crime in progress, don’t be afraid to call 911.

Non-emergency: 604-717-3321

This non-emergency number should be used when an immediate response or dispatch of the police IS NOT required. This is the number to call if time has elapsed since the incident occurred or the crime suspect is not on the scene or you are calling about a nuisance issue (a noisy party or graffiti).

Community policing centres

If you have a non-emergency concern about a sex worker’s presence, you can call one of the community policing centres in Vancouver. Community policing centres do not take police reports.

Report crimes on-line

In an effort to make reporting crimes easier and safer, the Vancouver Police Department has developed this on-line reporting system. The more information you provide, the more effective the police investigation. Please do not hesitate to use this form if you have knowledge of crimes or suspicious activities and for property crimes under $5,000. Police will NOT follow up personally with you.

Sex Worker Presence

Everybody is free to stand in public spaces, in front of businesses, at bus stops and anywhere on the sidewalk. Sex work is not illegal, but if you have concerns that your home or business is being affected, there are things you can do.


Be respectful

Sex workers often feel threatened and may be scared of you too. They usually agree to move if they are approached politely and when they understand there is a concern. The important thing is to remember that your own safety and that of sex workers is your first priority. If you feel safe and comfortable, and you do not see anyone else around, you may approach a sex worker. 

Keep the following things in mind:

  • acknowledge the sex worker’s presence
  • be respectful
  • explain your concerns
  • politely ask them to find a different place to stand
  • if you see someone in distress, don’t be afraid to ask if they are OK or call someone for help.
  • if you feel comfortable, you can offer resource information to sex workers like this toolkit site

Everyone plays a role in supporting community safety. Certain types of crime such as property crime or vandalism usually occur when there are few witnesses. Sex workers can be a presence when no one else is around.