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46 people identified as clients of prostitution in major sex trade probe

Gardaí are investigating a number of concerning reports across the country where they fear sex workers are being trafficked or exploited by pimps.

Picture posed by model. Stock photo
Picture posed by model. Stock photo — © PA Archive/PA Images

30th November 2022

Forty six people have been identified as clients of sex workers as part of a major nationwide probe into the sex trade last week.

Gardaí are investigating a number of concerning reports across the country where they fear sex workers are being trafficked or exploited by pimps.

They were contacted by one sex worker who believes a group of women are being trafficked for sexual exploitation in the south west of the country.

Enquiries into this and a number of other incidents are ongoing, including one into a ‘pimp’ in the east of the country who is suspected of controlling the earnings of sex workers.

Another sex worker reached out to an officer during last week’s operation to report how a client assaulted them.

Gardaí have also seized €3,000 and $500 from a man in the south east who is suspected of being involved in organised prostitution.

A number of files are now being prepared for the DPP.

The nationwide investigation is intended to strengthen the trust of sex workers in Gardaí, said Detective Chief Superintendent Colm Noonan.

“The Organised Prostitution Investigation Unit within our bureau regularly carry out safeguarding checks of people who are involved in the sex trade.

“This is especially important so that Gardaí can identify anyone who may be vulnerable or who is being sexually exploited or trafficked. Our unit is also cognisant of those who are working independently in the sex trade.

“Any person involved in the sex trade can be assured that An Garda Síochána is here to listen, and will treat any report of a crime against them very seriously and sensitively – whether it is assault, theft or criminality of other kind,” he added.

Gardaí said in the statement that 46 people were identified as having allegedly purchased sexual services from an individual involved in prostitution. They carried out 65 safeguarding visits last week, offering 112 sex workers welfare advice and services as well as sending 400 messages to sex workers across the country.

These texts were sent in English, Romanian, Spanish and Portuguese and detail the confidential services available.

On Thursday and Friday, five searches were carried out across the country in relation to organised prostitution as part of the targeted operations during the UN 16 Days of Activism against Gender-Based Violence.

The operation is a joint one across 16 Garda divisions including Waterford, Cork, Kerry, Limerick, Longford, Galway, Dublin, Kildare, Donegal, Cavan and Louth and is led by the Garda National Protective Services Bureau.

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