THE head of the Limerick garda division has revealed that a number of covert operations targeting prostitution related crimes in the city are ongoing.
However, details of the operations have not been revealed by Chief Supt David Sheahan who says the action is being taken in response to complaints he has received from members of the business community.
Over the past twelve months over a dozen brothels across the city have been raided by gardai and more than 60 woman have been prosecuted at the local court for prostitution offences.
In most cases the woman who have appeared in court have been from Eastern Europe and from Romania in particular.
Many of them had only recently arrived in Limerick and had addresses at city hotels despite not having any income.
In recent months, traders in the Catherine Street, Catherine Place and Glentworth Street areas of the city have reported an increase in the levels of on-street prostitution during the early evening and late at night.
Chief Supt Sheahan told a meeting of the city’s joint policing committee that he is aware of the concerns of the business community.
“We have a number of operations ongoing at the moment, I have received a number of letters from members of the business community, in the areas mentioned, about the early evening and late night activity that goes on in the area and we have responded to that,” he said.
Although there have been no confirmed instances of human trafficking in Limerick over the past three months, Cllr Maurice Quinlivan said he believes some of the woman have been brought here against their will.
“There seems to be a huge amount of street prostitution and I can’t believe that none of the women have been trafficked into this country,” he said.
Addressing the meeting, Chief Supt Sheahan said prostitution in LImerick is a concern .
“It is no secret, -the figures speak for themselves - Limerick city is to the fore in terms of the number of detections made across the whole country at the moment.
We are continuing in our efforts in respect of that area We are targeting not only street prostitution but also the trafficking We have had some success in respect of that area and we will continue to have that and it requires constant vigilance and being aware of what is going on the ground,” he said.