Prostitution fears for Cookstown teenagers

Prostitution fears
Prostitution fears

Despite behind-the-scenes concerns that prostitution is becoming an issue in Mid Ulster, police made no arrests for the offence in the last year.

Young people from Cookstown, Dungannon and Coalisland — to name a few towns — listed solicitation amongst the issues that are concerning teens across Tyrone.

And youth workers, who help and support local youngsters, have told the MAIL they were very surprised at the inclusion of prostitution alongside issues like suicide, depression, online bullying and, drink and drugs.

Following a freedom of information request to the police however, they have said no arrests were made in relation to prostitution over the course of 2013.

And that while in 2012, the PSNI targeted three Dungannon properties on the issue of human trafficking, in Cookstown there have been no such searches.

During the Dungannon raids, no one was arrested, no women were freed and no charges were brought.

But police have said prostitution and human trafficking do remain a priority for them.

“The Police Service is committed to ensuring the safety of any potential victims of human trafficking and prostitution, apprehending offenders and raising awareness about the issue generally in our communities,” they told the MAIL.

“Human trafficking is a concern across Northern Ireland, and not just the larger urban areas.

“Organised Crime Branch has been, and continues to be, involved in a range of proactive, complex and long running investigations against gangs profiting from human exploitation.

“Partnership is critical to combating this horrendous crime,” they added.

“The Police Service works with our law enforcement partners, as well as statutory and voluntary agencies, who play an important role in ensuring that the needs of rescued victims are addressed.

“But we also need to work in partnership with the public.”

They went on to say that without community support on this most serious of issues, it will be harder to tackle.

“The Police Service needs the community to be its eyes and ears,” they explained.

“Information from the public is a crucial part of identifying potential victims and assisting investigations.”

They have called for anyone with information to contact them on 0800 555 111.