340. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Justice the degree of people trafficking detected over the past three years to date; the action proposed or in hand to deal with the issues arising; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [30427/21]


Minister of State at the Department of Justice (Deputy Hildegarde Naughton): I am informed by the Garda authorities that, during the past three years to date, there have been 17 incidents of human trafficking recorded as detected on the Garda PULSE system. These matters are currently with the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) or before the courts.
An Garda Síochána has committed significant resources to the investigation and prosecution of human trafficking in Ireland. A specialised Garda Unit, the Human Trafficking Investigation and Co-ordination Unit (HTICU), has been in place since 2009 to conduct investigations into human trafficking. It also provides advice, support and where necessary, operational assistance to investigations at district level. An Garda Síochána is also active in relation to trafficking gangs through work targeting organised crime - targeting their finances, their use of the internet and by working closely with other jurisdictions.
A High Level Group established in November 2019, which includes An Garda Síochána, my Department and the Office of the DPP,  meets regularly and keeps the legislative and operational framework for investigation and prosecution of trafficking under review.
The Government is fully committed to addressing human trafficking in all forms, including through the provision of supports for victims of human trafficking and by educating the public to recognise the signs of trafficking.  We have partnered with the United Nations International Organisation for Migration (IOM) office in Dublin on a campaign to raise awareness that victims of trafficking can be found anywhere and can be hidden in plain sight.
My Department continues to engage with the US Embassy here on human trafficking issues, and we are currently working on our contribution to the 2021 Trafficking in Persons Report.
The Deputy may also be aware that the Government recently approved plans for a revised National Referral Mechanism (NRM) to make it easier for victims of human trafficking to come forward and be supported. I also received approval to draft a General Scheme of a Bill to put the new NRM on a statutory footing.