CHECK AGAINST DELIVERY

Seanad Commencement Matter

“The need for the Minister for Justice to provide statistics on the number of prosecutions and convictions for prostitution-related offences on an annualised basis from 2013-2016 inclusive.”

- Senator Ivana Bacik

 

A Chathaoirleach,

 

I am taking this Commencement Matter on behalf of the Minister for Justice and Equality who unfortunately cannot be here this morning. I would like to thank Senator Bacik for highlighting this issue.

 

The statistics sought by the Senator in this Commencement Matter were compiled by the Central Statistics Office (CSO), who are responsible for the publication of the official recorded crime statistics. In this context, I would like to assure the Senator that An Garda Síochána continue to monitor all new and emerging crime trends on an ongoing basis, including those related to prostitution offences, so that optimum use is made of Garda resources and help tackle this form of crime.

 

First, I must take this opportunity to explain that the two sets of statistics provided with this text, of which you should all have received a copy. The information provided in the first table by the CSO refers to “incidents” of prostitution. These are situations where An Garda Síochána have made an arrest under one of the headings set out below. Separately, figures relating to prosecutions or convictions for prostitution-related offences have been provided by the Courts Service and are also appended to the text. The Minister hopes that the Senator finds these statistics useful.

 

Senator Bacik will be aware that the Criminal Law (Sexual Offences) Act 2017 was enacted on the 22nd of February, 2017 and I would like to take this opportunity to remind the House of the provisions of that Act, as they relate to prostitution-related offences.

 

Part 4 of the Act provides for two new offences of purchasing sexual services, in the context of prostitution.  The purpose of these offences is to target the demand for prostitution. This part also removes those who provide sexual services through prostitution from the existing offences of soliciting and loitering for the purpose of prostitution. Part 4 of the Act was commenced on 28th March 2017.

 

The Act itself and the provisions referred to in particular, recognise the exploitation experienced by those involved in prostitution and decriminalises them.  Its enactment marked the culmination of a long campaign aimed at tackling the abuse and exploitation which is so widely associated with prostitution. Both I, and the Minister, would like to take the opportunity to acknowledge the role of Senator Bacik, who played a role in that campaign, and all members of the House who recognise the vulnerability to exploitation and abuse of those involved in prostitution.

 

The new offences under the Act are, firstly, a general offence of paying to engage in sexual activity with a prostitute, which carries a penalty of a fine of up to €500 for a first offence and fines of up to €1000 for a second or subsequent offence; secondly, the more serious offence of paying for sexual activity with a trafficked person, in the context of prostitution, an offence which carries a potential penalty of up to 5 years’ imprisonment and/or a fine. 

 

In both cases, the person selling or, in the case of a trafficked or exploited person being forced to sell, the sexual service will not commit an offence.

 

Section 27 of Part 4 requires a Report after 3 years on the number of arrests during that period in respect of the new offences as well as an assessment of the impact of the offences on those who provide sexual services for payment.

 

The Minister believes that three years is the minimum period in which systems and practices can be effectively bedded down and operated so that reliable conclusions can be drawn from the information gathered for the review.

 

That Report, of course, relates to the effect of legislation from the date of its commencement on 27th March 2017, and as such is not of immediate relevance to the Matter before the House but will be an important milestone in terms of measuring the effectiveness of a new approach to dealing with prostitution and the exploitation linked to it.

Central Statistics Office (CSO) Recorded incidents of Prostitution, 2011 to 2016

           
             

 

YEAR

2011

2012

2013

2014

2015

2016

N

N

N

N

N

N

Incident type

57

69

40

32

26

29

1341 Brothel keeping

1342 Organisation of prostitution

14

3

3

18

6

2

1343 Prostitution, including soliciting etc.

157

76

77

79

24

5

             

Figures are provisional and may be subject to further revision.

           

 

 

COURTS SERVICE - Report on Number of prosecutions and orders which includes convictions for prostitution-related offences between Jan 2013 – Dec 2016.

Note:   Report is for final orders so if an offence was not disposed with, it will not be included in report.

Note:  Report is based on offences codes for Prostitution, so if Courts received an uncoded offence for prostitution it is not possible to report on those uncoded offences.

 

Orders

JAN – DEC 2013

JAN – DEC 2014

JAN – DEC 2015

JAN – DEC 2016

 

Orders

Defendants

Orders

Defendants

Orders

Defendants

Orders

Defendants

Dismiss

1

1

2

2

0

0

0

0

Dismiss on Probation

0

0

2

1

0

0

0

0

Fine

6

6

2

2

0

0

1

1

Imprisonment

2

2

1

1

0

0

0

0

Peace Bond

1

1

0

0

2

1

0

0

Strike Out

22

18

11

7

15

9

17

6

Poor Box

2

2

1

1

 

 

1

1

Strike out not Served

15

8

23

10

4

3

6

4

Taken Into Consideration

12

7

2

2

0

0

0

0

Sent Forward For Trial

2

2

1

1

1

1

3

2

Total

63

47

45

27

22

14

28

14