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briefing note        

15 May 2012 

How can we stop sex trafficking in Northern Ireland?   Northern Ireland has the fastest growing sex industry in Europe with many of the victims having been trafficked. Since April 2011, the PSNI have discovered and released 27 victims of trafficking, but this is thought to be just the tip of the iceberg. Those found guilty of using a prostitute or trafficked woman subjected to force can be fined a maximum of £1000, but are often let off with a warning. Evangelical Alliance is working together with others to change the law on trafficking in Northern Ireland. We are proposing that those found guilty of using a trafficked person for forced sex should face prison and be put on the sex offenders register. Increased sanctions will make users think twice, limiting demand and making significant steps in stopping this trade. Recent statistics have shown the rapid increase in sex trafficking in Northern Ireland. It is estimated that £500,000 is spent every week here on illegal prostitution. 70% of trafficked victims rescued in Northern Ireland in the last three years were sexual slaves (1). This is an horrific trade often hidden from the public eye. This is also part of a wider global problem. There are more slaves in the world today than when slavery was abolished in 1807 – an estimated 27 million people. Trafficking involves three groups – traffickers, victims and users. A coordinated response must deal with all three aspects of the trafficking triangle. Victims must be rescued and cared for, traffickers must be pursued and brought to justice, but the missing link is often the men who use these women. Detective Superintendent Philip Marshall has urged that the words ‘client’ or ‘punter’ should be replaced with ‘exploiters’ or even ‘rapists’ (2).




Politicians and the PSNI have described sex trafficking as ‘rape for profit’ - a high yield, low risk crime. The maximum sentence for rape in Northern Ireland is life imprisonment. However, Section 15 of The Policing and Crime Act 2009 introduced the offence of ‘paying for sexual services of a prostitute (you can also read trafficked victim) subjected to force etc.’ The maximum punishment for this crime is a fine not exceeding £1,000. Can you imagine the outcry if the maximum penalty for rape was a £1000 fine? The penalty for using a trafficked woman is the same as for being drunk and disorderly. More serious offences include driving without insurance or not paying your train fare. We’re calling for a serious punishment for this serious crime. Our campaign may be simple but it is not simplistic. We are not calling for brand new legislation, the basic law is already in place and the crime is already a strict liability offence. That means it is no defence for someone to say they didn’t know the victim was subjected to force or trafficked. A similar legislative comparison is perhaps the offence of rape of a minor. A fine is no deterrent. The existing penalty of £1000 is an insult to victims. It sends out completely the wrong message to men who are using, or are tempted to use, trafficked women. It’s time to change the public perception, particularly amongst men, making it clear that using trafficked women is unacceptable. The campaign to stigmatise drink driving is a good model for changing social attitudes. There is no panacea, no single policy that can solve this complex issue. It is difficult to tackle this international crime at a local level – but a grass roots response which tackles demand is essential. We have raised our campaign with the Justice Minister, senior police and the All Party Group on human trafficking. We have also launched a petition calling for change in the law at and have made a short provocative video at Selling and buying others for sex is wrong, degrading and illegal. Northern Ireland can and should lead the way in tackling demand for sex trafficking. It’s abusing an imagebearer of God. We believe that this campaign could really work and could spread to change legislation in the rest of the UK and Ireland. If we can dramatically reduce demand we can dramatically reduce trafficking…join us. ENDS For more information please contact Peter Lynas or David Smyth at:

07899 898066

07739 307656

NOTES: The Evangelical Alliance is the largest body serving the 2 million evangelical Christians in the UK. Its membership includes denominations, churches, organisations and individuals. The mission of Evangelical Alliance is to present Christ credibly as good news for spiritual and social transformation. The Evangelical Alliance office in Northern Ireland was opened in 1987 specifically to meet the needs of the community here. th

(1) Detective Superintendent Philip Marshall, Tyrone Times, 12 March 2012 (2) Detective Superintendent Philip Marshall,

How can we stop sex trafficking in Northern Ireland?  

Northern Ireland has the fastest growing sex industry in Europe with many of the victims having been trafficked.

How can we stop sex trafficking in Northern Ireland?  

Northern Ireland has the fastest growing sex industry in Europe with many of the victims having been trafficked.