The Alliance Party remains sceptical of attempts to criminalise men who buy sex because it does not believe that organised crime has a significant hold on Northern Ireland’s sex trade.
Those were the views yesterday of Alliance MLA Stewart Dickson, as the Stormont Justice Committee published its report on a DUP bill which aims to criminalise the purchase of sex. The DUP believes it will reduce demand for human trafficking.
The committee has formally supported the bill, although Alliance, Sinn Fein, and the UUP expressed reservations.
Mr Dickson said the Alliance Party “remains sceptical” about clause six, which would criminalise sex buyers if passed by MLAs.
“The problem with clause six is that it captures people who do not see themselves as criminals,” Mr Dickson said.
The Alliance Party view is that there is “no significant organised crime control of the sex trade in Northern Ireland, based on the number of convictions,” he said.
He added: “The Justice Committee heard from people who wish to continue providing those [sexual] services. That is why the Alliance Party has not come to a definite view on this bill.”
Mark Baillie of CARE, which sponsored the bill, said: “We are delighted that the Justice Committee has given its backing to this ground-breaking Human Trafficking Bill.”