Today was a bad day for human trafficking in Ireland. An all-island crackdown on organised crime involving money laundering and organised prostitution (and therefore including human trafficking) was carried out in a joint effort by the PSNI and Garda today, ending about an hour ago. Just under 400 police officers were involved in the long-planned operation that culminated in raids, arrests and rescues.
In the North, over 20 properties were searched, 10 of which were found to be brothels. 5 arrests were made and 3 suspected victims were rescued.
The PSNI and Garda are to be commended for their united, cross-border approach to what is indeed a cross-border problem, and their long-term commitment to ending it. This operation is the result of weeks of careful planning.
Detective Superintendent Philip Marshall said: “We are determined to actually do something about this problem. It is not something society should stand for, it is a criminal offence and police do take it seriously.“
The law enforcement sector leads the way in its example of dedication and victim-centred approach.
And may policy and law-makers as well as NGOs and community groups follow their lead. How just and appropriate the sentencing for the arrested criminals will be remains to be seen. It will also be of interest to keep a close eye on how the victims are treated, given the very limited recovery time and resources Women’s Aid and Migrant Help currently deal with.
Today was a bad day for human trafficking in Ireland. Here’s to many more.
PS: I used to think we didn’t have any “stories of hope” like the ones countries who have been working on the problem for longer tell. Our story jar is getting fuller.