Tuesday, 3 December 2019

Questions (253, 274)

Bríd Smith

Question:

253. Deputy Bríd Smith asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the number of criminal prosecutions of women and sex workers under the provisions of the Criminal Law (Sexual Offences) Act 2017; the number that relate to migrant and non-resident women and sex workers; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [49765/19]

View answer

Bríd Smith

Question:

274. Deputy Bríd Smith asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the number of prosecutions under the Criminal Law (Sexual Offences) Act 2017 for the offence of purchasing sex. [49885/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Justice)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 253 and 274 together.

As the Deputy is aware, Part 4 of the Criminal Law (Sexual Offences) Act 2017 provides for two new offences of paying for sexual activity with a prostitute and paying for sexual activity with a trafficked person. The Act also removes those who offer their services as a prostitute from the existing offences of soliciting for the purpose of prostitution. One purpose of these measures is to provide additional protection to persons involved in prostitution and to allow them to make reports to the Gardaí, for instance where they have been subjected to violence by clients, without fear or concern of being prosecuted for selling sexual services.

This part of the Act is due to be reviewed in 2020. This will include an assessment of the impact on the welfare of those who engage in sexual activity for payment, as well as information on prosecutions and convictions. The review will commence early next year.

In relation to relevant prosecutions, I am informed by the Garda authorities that from 1 March 2017 to 27 November 2019 criminal charges were brought against 18 persons in relation to brothel keeping contrary to Section 11 of the Criminal Law (Sexual Offences) Act 1993, as amended by the Criminal Law (Sexual Offences) Act 2017. I understand that these prosecutions are at various stages. In response to the Deputy's request for a breakdown in relation to the number of these which relate to migrant and non-resident women, I am informed that the nationality of the persons charged with brothel-keeping is as follows: Romanian (10), Hungarian (5), Chinese (3).

I am further informed by the Garda authorities that from 1 March 2017 to 27 November 2019 charges were brought against 6 persons in relation to the organisation of prostitution contrary to Section 9 of the Criminal Law (Sexual Offences) Act, 1993 as amended by the Criminal Law (Sexual Offences) Act 2017. I am informed that all 6 cases are still before the courts. I understand that of the six people charged, four are female and two are male. I further understand that the nationality of the persons concerned is Irish (1), Hungarian (1), Chinese (1) and Nigerian (3).

With regard to prosecutions for the offence of purchasing sex, I am advised that An Garda Síochána is committed to targeting the demand for prostitution and protecting vulnerable persons. As the Deputy may be aware, as part of Operation Quest, two days of action were carried out recently on 21 and 22 November 2019 to target the demand for sexual services and to enforce law criminalising the purchase of such services. I am informed that in the course of this intelligence-led operation, a total of 23 individuals were stopped and spoken to by members of An Garda Síochána, arising from suspicion of having purchased sexual services from persons involved in prostitution. I understand that a number of investigation files will now be prepared for forwarding to the Director of Public Prosecutions, with a view to establishing if any criminal prosecution is to be initiated in these cases. I have requested further information in relation to any previous prosecutions and I will write directly to the Deputy when I receive it.