No charges brought under Northern Ireland’s year-old sex purchase law

There have been no charges to date under a year-old Northern Ireland law that criminalises the purchase of sex, The Times reports.

Figures released under Freedom of Information (FOI) legislation show that no charges have been brought under the Human Trafficking and Exploitation Act 2015, which creates new offences around the purchase of sex.

Six men arrested for purchasing sex were either released, cautioned or discharged under a discretionary disposal.

The figures have cast doubt on the merit of proposals to introduce similar offences in Ireland through the Sexual Offences Bill.

Kate McGrew, a sex worker and spokesperson for the Sex Workers Alliance Ireland, told The Times: “It’s clear that in the north they don’t have the resources to charge people, but this law will still have an effect on sex workers. It will send a message.

“If our work is considered a crime it means absolutely that people are going to retreat further and further into the margins and have far less trust in gardai and support services.”

A spokeswoman for Ireland’s Department of Justice said: “Enactment of this important piece of legislation is a priority for the government, consequently it was restored to the Dáil order paper last week.”