Belfast's shock new vice
Underage market is growing: police
By Jonathan McCambridge
07 July 2006
Police today delivered a shock warning that a market for
underage prostitutes is developing in Belfast.
Although no children have yet been found working in the vice
trade, detectives believe some customers are looking for
underage girls and have received reports of prostitutes passing
themselves off as minors.
An investigation by the Belfast Telegraph has also found that
international escort girls are targeting Belfast, staying in
luxury hotels and apartments, and are able to earn up to £4,000
a night. The South Belfast Drugs and Vice Team, the only unit of
its sort in Northern Ireland, has uncovered 62 brothels in the
city centre and surrounding area since it was formed last year.
South Belfast Crime Manager, Detective Inspector Jeff Smyth,
said ensuring that children were not sucked into the seedy world
of vice was the number one priority for the unit.
He said that, until recently, police in the area had not
received any reports of children working as street prostitutes.
However, he said the situation had taken a sinister turn.
DI Smyth said: "I cannot say that is the case now. I
have to say it is a real concern for police, but we are having
"At this point in time we have not had an operation
where someone under the age of 18 is working on the streets or
in a brothel, but there have been incidents where there have
been concerns about females who look very, very young. Younger
females attract a certain clientele, they are alive to the fact
that some clients want younger people."
DI Smyth added: "Some make themselves look as young as
they can but when we have spoken to them we are satisfied that
they are overage. We had one incident where there was an
18-year-old girl and we were being told she was 15, but it was
not the case.
"We would like to think that if there was a child on the
streets in Belfast we would be alerted to it quickly, because
many of the older girls, some of whom are mothers, would take
the view that they do not want young girls falling into the
trap. There is a child market out there."
DI Smyth said that international escort girls were targeting
Belfast through advertising their services on the internet.
One website, viewed by the Belfast Telegraph, advertised
escort girls from Australia, Brazil and Japan who have all
visited Belfast. The sites offer price ranges and phone numbers.
The average rate for the international escorts is £120 for
half an hour, although some can make up to £4,000 a night.
Original Link: http://www.belfasttelegraph.co.uk/news/story.jsp?story=697805