Just two men were arrested in Derry and Strabane for paying for sex with prostitutes in the first two years after it was criminalised under the former DUP MLA Maurice Morrow’s Human Trafficking and Exploitation Act.
Neither of the men, one aged 51, the other 69, were either charged, cautioned or convicted, of the new offence of ‘paying for sexual services of a person’, which since June 2015, has been punishable by up to year’s imprisonment.
Figures, released by the PSNI show that between June 2015 and St. Patrick’s Day of this year, there were just 11 instances of men having been arrested for the new crime, across the whole of the North.
Not one of these men were convicted, suggesting the new law is not being used effectively as a means of protecting sex workers, many of whom have been trafficked. The data also reveal these eleven arrests resulted in just three cautions.
Furthermore, seven people, all men, found to have been engaged in paying for sex were not even arrested, and were instead offered discretionary disposals. The criminalisation of the purchase of sexual services was approved at Stormont in 2014 and followed similar legislation initiatives in Sweden, Norway, Iceland and Canada.
Back then, Mr. Morrow, said he believed: “It is the most effective way of tackling human trafficking for the purposes of sexual exploitation and the exploitation of individuals involved in prostitution.”