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An Garda Síochána – Targeted operations to protect those in the Sex Trade as part of 16 Days of Activism

On Thursday, 24th of November and Friday, 25th of November 2022 the Garda National Protective Services Bureau (GNPSB) with the support of divisional Protective Services Units and local Detectives, conducted intelligence led operations across 16 Garda Divisions.

These included Waterford, Cork, Kerry, Limerick, Longford, Galway, Dublin, Kildare, Donegal, Cavan and Louth.

During the course of this Garda operation:

  • 46 people were identified as having allegedly purchased sexual services from an individual involved in prostitution
  • 65 safeguarding visits were carried out with a view to eliminating the possibility of sexual exploitation
  • 112 individual sex workers were offered welfare advice and encouraged to avail of expert services
  • 5 search warrants were executed in relation to the organization of prostitution
  • €3,000 euro and $500 was seized from a male in the South Eastern Region who is suspected of being involved in organized prostitution.

In addition, a number of positive outcomes were reported as a consequence of the targeted action:

  1. A Liaison Officer attached to the Organised Prostitution Investigation Unit was contacted by an individual sex worker who is the victim of assault by a client.

    Gardaí are currently investigating this matter and are following a definite line of enquiry.
  1. Following a safeguarding visit from a member of An Garda Síochána in the South West, an individual working in the sex trade made contact with a local Garda Station to express their concern for several women believed to be trafficked for sexual exploitation.

    Enquiries are ongoing into this matter.
  1. In the East of the country, a sex worker contacted a local Garda Station to report the location where they believe sex workers work for a “pimp” who is suspected of controlling their earnings.

    The location has been identified by Gardaí and enquiries are ongoing.

As a result of this work by Gardaí earlier this month, a number of files are now being prepared for the Director of Public Prosecutions, with a view to determining if any criminal prosecution can be initiated.

As part of its support for the United Nations’ 16 Days of Activism against gender based violence, An Garda Síochána has also launched a text message campaign which is aimed at offering confidential support to those working in the sex trade.

An Garda Síochána have two dedicated phone numbers for those in the sex trade in Ireland to contact to report a crime, seek advice or assurance as necessary. 

Over 400 messages have already been issued to sex workers this week, and this initiative will continue in the coming days. The text message, which includes the details of available services, is sent in English, Romanian, Spanish and Portuguese.

Speaking today, Detective Chief Superintendent, Colm Noonan of the Garda National Protective Services Bureau said, “This ongoing work is all in an effort to strengthen our link with those involved in the sex trade in order to increase trust and raise greater awareness of the services that are available to them.

“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. “