Gardaí are warning sex workers to avoid online appointments following seven instances in which sex workers were robbed and assaulted when they turned up to meet clients who booked an appointment online.
Detective Chief Superintendent Declan Daly of the Garda National Protective Services Bureau told RTÉ radio’s Morning Ireland that the force is aware of only seven such incidents, but fears more may have occurred and the victims are afraid to report them.
On each occasion, an online appointment was made, but when the parties involved met, the sex worker was attacked and robbed by a number of men.
Chief Supt Daly said the motive for the attacks (on male and female sex workers) appears to be monetary gain as cash and valuables were stolen, and violence was used.
“We are concerned that there could be more, so we are appealing for anyone with information about attacks to contact any garda station or to call the Garda Confidential line on 1800 666 111.
He pointed out that the selling of sex is not a crime and since the introduction of new legislation in 2017 it is the client who has committed the offence.
Chief Supt Daly urged sex workers to be vigilant, particularly when taking bookings online from clients. “If they are concerned about a client then they should cancel the appointment.”
However, he acknowledged that it is difficult for sex workers to take precautions given the nature of the work.
“There is a high level of exploitation in this industry. We are very concerned for the welfare and safety of these people.”