Belfast Telegraph

Northern Ireland sex trafficking victim numbers may double in year

The number of sex trafficking victims in Northern Ireland is on course to almost double over the course of a year, new figures have shown.

The BBC reports there have been 34 victims of sex trafficking rescued in the first six months of the 2018/19 financial year, just two less than the 36 total potential trafficking victims rescued during the whole of the 2017/18 financial year.

The figure has been released ahead of the broadcast of BBC drama Doing Money.

The drama looks at the true story of Romanian woman Anna who spent 10 months as a sex slave in Northern Ireland.

Her testimony before politicians at Stormont contributed to debates that led to the Human Trafficking and Exploitation Act being passed in 2015, which criminalised the buying of sex.

In March of this year two Romanian brothers were jailed for sex slavery in Northern Ireland in a landmark case.

The PSNI said it was one of the biggest investigations ever into human trafficking in the province, and was one of the first convictions under the 2015 legislation.

It was also the first conviction in Northern Ireland of its kind in which the victims did not have to provide any evidence.

Between July and October the Department for Justice ran a consultation on tackling modern slavery in Northern Ireland, including a focus on people trafficked into sex slavery.

Speaking at the time the consultation was launched, Department of Justice director of safer communities Anthony Harbinson said: "Working together we aim to strengthen and improve the ways we pursue the criminals who are exploiting the vulnerable, also how we protect and support victims, and how we can prevent others from falling prey to the criminals who are involved in the vile crimes around modern slavery.

“Tackling modern slavery requires a whole societal response; by taking the time to engage with our public consultation everyone can play a part in tackling it."

Doing Money will be broadcast on Monday at 9pm on BBC Two.

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