Sex Up North 'Not Just In The City'

Prostitution in the North is not confined to the cities - and certainly not just to Belfast - with over 60% of the police command units across Northern Ireland having reported cases involving 'street-walkers'.

The Stormont Justice Minister David Ford's new research has revealed that prostitution occurs right across Northern Ireland and is not solely an issue for Belfast.

The news came in today's research paper on the women involved in prostitution and in human trafficking that the Justice Department undertook to inform its 'Strategy to Manage Women Offenders and Those Vulnerable to Offending Behaviour'.

A number of key findings are being drawn from the research paper as it identifies factors contributing to women becoming involved in prostitution, highlights the growing problem of the trafficking of women sexually exploited by criminal gangs in the sex industry, and identifies best practice in dealing with these issues.

The study even identified 17 victims of human trafficking forced into prostitution.

The paper said that 18 of the 29 police areas in Northern Ireland had reported incidents of prostitution over a six-month period.

In 2009/10 the PSNI identified 25 potential victims of human trafficking - with 17 who had been subject to sexual exploitation - by being forced into selling their bodies.

However, prosecutions and convictions for prostitution related offences are low due to the covert nature of prostitution.

David Ford said: "This is a valuable piece of research which for the first time catalogues the extent of prostitution and human trafficking across Northern Ireland.

"It puts the scale of the challenge in context and while it is clear that the size of the problem in Northern Ireland is not as great as in other jurisdictions, this research allows us to look from an informed position at these issues.

"While there are a number of organisations, both statutory and voluntary, running a range of projects and initiatives that support women involved in prostitution, more must be done.

"As part of my agenda to reshape the justice system, I want to work in partnership with others to develop new thinking on how we can help bring people out of prostitution, support the victims of sexual exploitation and bring human traffickers to justice," he said, on Thursday.


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