Thirty-eight suspected victims of human trafficking were rescued in Northern Ireland in the last year, it has emerged.
The figures were revealed as Justice Minister David Ford published an update on the efforts being made to tackle the issue. An action plan published last May identified key priorities across a range of areas including prevention, support and protection for victims and investigation and prosecution.
While progress has been made in a number of instances, some targets have slipped, including baselining the existing level of public awareness of human trafficking and of how to report suspicions. The report also reveals that human trafficking is continuing in Northern Ireland.
It states: "During the 2013/14 period, 38 potential victims of human trafficking were recovered in Northern Ireland."
It is thought that at any one time up to 100 women could be involved in the sex trade in Belfast alone.