Tuesday, 3 December 2019

Ceisteanna (254)

Bríd Smith

Ceist:

254. Deputy Bríd Smith asked the Minister for Justice and Equality if An Garda Síochána keep a specific record of attacks and violence against sex workers; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [49766/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Justice)

As the Deputy will appreciate, the Garda Commissioner is responsible for managing and controlling An Garda Síochána. The matter referred to by the Deputy is operational, and one in which, as Minister, I have no role.

The Garda authorities have advised that all reported crimes are recorded on the Garda PULSE system.

I am further informed that while there is no specific database regarding individual attacks against prostitutes, the Garda National Protective Services Bureau (GNPSB), Special Crime Operations, under the mantle of 'Operation Quest', monitor the Garda PULSE System to identify cases of assaults, robberies and burglaries committed against persons involved in prostitution.

The identification of these crimes allows the Garda National Protective Services Bureau to co-ordinate and assist in investigations across the country. This includes, for example, a recent investigation conducted by An Garda Síochána under Operation Quest, which resulted in the arrest of members of a criminal gang who had been involved in attacks on persons advertising sexual services online.

As the Deputy may appreciate, Part 4 of the Criminal Law (Sexual Offences) Act 2017 provides for two new offences namely paying for sexual activity with a prostitute and paying for sexual activity with a trafficked person. The Act 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, especially vulnerable persons and victims of human trafficking. This measure allows persons working in prostitution to provide information to the Gardaí, for instance where they have been subjected to violence by clients, without fear of prosecution for selling sexual services.