Paying for sex becomes criminal offence

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The Department of Justice has advised that from Monday it becomes a criminal offence to pay for sex or ‘sexual services’ in Northern Ireland.

Under section 15 of the Human Trafficking and Exploitation (Criminal Justice and Support for Victims) Act (Northern Ireland) 2015, it will become an offence to obtain sexual services in exchange for payment, either by paying, or promising to pay, any person directly, or through a third party, the department said. Under the legislation, payment includes money or the provision of goods or services.

Anyone convicted can be sentenced to a maximum of one year’s imprisonment, or a fine, or both.

The new law also removes criminality from loitering or soliciting for the purposes of offering services as a prostitute in a street or public place. It remains an offence to keep or manage a brothel.