Northern Ireland

PSNI to visit men who paid for sex with trafficked women

Police rescuing trafficking victim
Image caption Police have previously carried out raids on suspected brothels in Belfast

The PSNI will be visiting a number of men who they suspect have paid for sex with trafficked women, a senior officer has confirmed.

Detective Superintendent Philip Marshall said there were currently five investigations into organised crime gangs forcing women into prostitution.

He said fifteen men would be targeted in an attempt to deter them from using such services.

"The police service is driven by trying to rescue victims," he said.

Det Spt Marshall said the issue of human trafficking within Northern Ireland was one that needed much more public debate and discussion.

He said the words "clients" or "punters" should in fact be replaced with "exploiters, or dare I say it, rapists".

'Literally enslaved'

Det Spt Marshall said people from all social classes, backgrounds and ages were paying for sex, many of whom have families who would not know or even suspect they were using such services.

He said the UK sex industry had moved in recent years from the street corner to private rental accommodation and hotels.

"The reality is where you will have people literally enslaved and forced to sell their body several times a day," he said.

"This is modern day slavery with people treated as a commodity which is bought and sold."

Det Spt Marshall said many trafficking victims were moved around Ireland and the UK and in some cases they did not know geographically where they were.

He said it was a "very humbling experience talking to victims" who had been rescued.

"It saddens me that we are in some way accepting of this as we are afraid to talk and recognise it."

He appealed for landlords or anyone in the hotel sector to contact police with any concerns of trafficking being carried out.

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