I can inform the Deputy that since the Criminal Law (Human Trafficking) Act 2008 came into effect there have been 244 investigations carried out into alleged human trafficking. 258 potential victims were identified and 15 prosecutions for human trafficking related offences were commenced. In addition, in 2009, as a result of interstate cooperation between the Romanian and Irish authorities, 3 persons were prosecuted in Romania for trafficking related offences committed in Ireland. 19 potential victims of human trafficking who had no other permission to remain lawfully in the State were granted a period of recovery and reflection under the Administrative Immigration Arrangements for the Protection of Victims of Human Trafficking.
An Garda Síochána are pro-active in attempting to detect any breach of the provisions of the Criminal Law (Human Trafficking) Act 2008 and investigates all allegations of human trafficking with a view to identifying potential victims and perpetrators.
Over the past few years strong legislative, administrative and operational measures have been put in place to combat and prevent trafficking in persons. The Criminal Law (Human Trafficking) Act 2008, with penalties of up to life imprisonment for human trafficking, has greatly strengthened the law in this area. A dedicated Anti-Human Trafficking Unit was established in my Department in 2008 with the purpose of ensuring that the State's response to human trafficking is co-ordinated and comprehensive. This led to the production of a National Action Plan to Prevent and Combat Trafficking of Persons. In addition to the dedicated Unit in my Department there are 3 other dedicated Units in State Agencies dealing with the issue — the Human Trafficking Investigation and Co-ordination Unit in the Garda National Immigration Bureau; the Anti-Human Trafficking Team in the Health Service Executive and a specialised Human Trafficking legal team in the Legal Aid Board. Dedicated personnel are also assigned to deal with the prosecution of cases in the Director of Public Prosecutions Office. There are a wide range of training and awareness raising activities on-going and extensive consultation structures exist with Non-Governmental Organisations, International Organisations and State Agencies.
More detailed statistical information on the nature and extent of human trafficking in Ireland and information on prosecutions and convictions are available in the Annual Reports on Trafficking In Human Beings in Ireland for 2009, 2010 and 2011 on the web site www.blueblindfold.gov.ie at the What is Being Done? / Data Strategy section.