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31 May 2012

Press release

Evangelical Alliance welcomes human trafficking raids

The Evangelical Alliance Northern Ireland today welcomes the news of Operation Quest. Over 130 raids were carried out by the PSNI and Gardai across Ireland in response to the serious organized crime of forced prostitution and human trafficking. So far this has resulted in eight arrests, three victims being rescued and important evidence being gathered. We continue our campaign for tougher sanctions for users to tackle the demand for this horrific trade.

David Smyth, Public Policy Officer at the Evangelical Alliance and member of the All Party Group on anti-trafficking comments:

"Trafficking is a key justice and freedom issue that many churches are working to stop. We absolutely welcome this news and congratulate the PSNI on the scale of this operation especially the level of cross-border collaboration. The fact that raids were carried out in every county in Ireland clearly shows that this international crime has very local manifestations."

David continues: "These raids touch upon two sides of the trafficking triangle of victims, traffickers and users. We hope and pray that these victims experience restoration and that the traffickers are brought to justice. It's clear though that more needs to be done to tackle the users; those fuelling the demand for forced prostitution and sex trafficking."

It has been widely reported that £500,000 is being spent each week in Northern Ireland on sexual services. PSNI Detective Superintendent Philip Marshall said today that "there is a demand for those sexual services and organised criminals are feeding that demand".

The Evangelical Alliance is currently seeking reform of the penalty for using a victim of forced prostitution or sex trafficking in Northern Ireland. The current maximum penalty is a fine of £1,000 for an offence that is rape in all but name. We are calling for serious sentences for the perpetrators of these serious crimes, prison and a spell on the sex-offenders register.

David Smyth concludes: "Human trafficking doesn't happen in a vacuum, on a broader level we urgently need to address the difficult societal issues that allow this 'trade' to flourish in every county in Ireland. For example, we largely live in communities where we no longer know our neighbours and underneath this demand for sexual services is escalating pornography use, promiscuity and sexualisation of society. We fear an epidemic but pray for miracles."

We understand that this operation will be continuing in the coming days and look forward to more victims being rescued from sexual slavery.

Media Enquiries

David Smyth, public policy officer, Northern Ireland

Danny Webster
Tel: 07766 444 650
Email: info@eauk.org

Notes to Editors

The Evangelical Alliance
We are the largest and oldest body representing the UK’s two million evangelical Christians. For more than 165 years, we have been bringing Christians together and helping them listen to, and be heard by, the government, media and society. We’re here to connect people for a shared mission, whether it’s celebrating the Bible, making a difference in our communities or lobbying the government for a better society. From Skye to Southampton, from Coleraine to Cardiff, we work across 79 denominations, 3,500 churches, 750 organisations and thousands of individual members. And we're not just uniting Christians within the UK – we are a founding member of the World Evangelical Alliance, a global network of more than 600 million evangelical Christians. For more information, go to www.eauk.org.