Belfast Telegraph

String of arrests made as part of human trafficking for sexual services investigation

The arrests are part of an eight-month long investigation into human trafficking for sexual exploitation in Northern Ireland
The arrests are part of an eight-month long investigation into human trafficking for sexual exploitation in Northern Ireland

A 57-year-old man has been arrested in Belfast on suspicion of human trafficking for the purpose of sexual exploitation, controlling prostitution, brothel keeping and money laundering.

A number of electronic devices were seized as part of a search connected with the arrest.

A 27-year-old woman has also been arrested in the Antrim area on suspicion of controlling prostitution, brothel keeping and money laundering.

A further five men have been arrested in Stewartstown, Carrickfergus, Banbridge, Newtownabbey and Omagh on suspicion of paying for sexual services.

The arrests are part of an eight-month long investigation into human trafficking for sexual exploitation in Northern Ireland, according to police.

Detective Inspector Mark Bell said: "I want to appeal to victims to come forward to police. I want you to get the help and support that you need.

"Perhaps you are in this position but don’t think that you are being exploited. I’d urge you to have a think about the people around you and if there is anyone who is pushing you in a certain direction or financially benefiting from your activities, please make contact with the police.

"Whilst the sale of sex in itself is not a crime in Northern Ireland, it is a criminal offence to purchase sex. I want to make it very clear – if you are paying for sexual services, you are committing a crime. Furthermore, you cannot be sure that the person providing the services has not been forced to or trafficked to make a profit for the person controlling them.

"We are committed to protecting victims and targeting those who exploit or cause harm.  We are working as hard as we can but we cannot tackle this problem alone. We rely on our strong working relationships with a range of partners but we need the public’s help. I would also ask people to contact us with any concerns that they may have by calling 999 if it’s an emergency, or 101. There’s also a Modern Slavery Helpline on 08000 121 700.”

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