Galway Gardaí take part in nationwide investigation of sex trade

Galway Daily news Six people hospitalised after crash in Connemara

Gardaí in Galway took part in two days of operations by Garda divisions across the country aimed at protecting those in the sex trade this month.

On Thursday and Friday, November 24 – 25, the Garda National Protective Services Bureau (GNPSB), with the support of local units, carried out actions in 16 Garda divisions.

The intelligence led operations took place in Galway, Waterford, Cork, Kerry, Limerick, Longford, Dublin, Kildare, Donegal, Cavan and Louth.

Gardaí say that during this two day 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 organisation of prostitution

• €3,000 euro and $500 was seized from a male in the South Eastern Region who is suspected of being involved in organised prostitution.

A number of files are being prepared for the Director of Public Prosecutions as a result of these operations.

Since the introduction of Part 4 of the Criminal Justice (Sexual Offences) Act 2017, the sale of sexual services is legal and the purchase of sex is illegal.

Det. Chief Supt., Colm Noonan of the GNPSB 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. ”

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.