Six ‘brothels’ have virtually been put out of business in Portadown over the past few months by police activity.
And police will have more powers to act when a new bill promoted by Lord Morrow goes through the various stages.
The police acted recently against two suspected brothels in Thomas Street and another in West Street after the communities reported suspicious activities to Alderman Robert Smith – and they followed alleged brothels at Mourneview Street, Edenderry and Cecil Street.
Said Mr Smith, “The problem is that police powers are restricted and firm evidence is difficult to gather. But when Lord Morrow’s bill receives royal assent in the New Year, it will be illegal to pay for sex in NI and there will be more support for trafficking victims.”
Mr Smith added, “The police in Portadown have reacted positively to complaints on these brothels. But the danger under the present restricted legislation is that they move from one address to another.
“We believe that had been happening and there is a suspicion of another in Thomas Street. The communities have been very vigilant and the new laws will have a positive effect.”
The issue caused controversy as Lord Morrow was discussing the bill. The PSNI said it did not support the liberalisation of prostitution laws but would “respect the role of the Assembly”.
Mr Smith said he was satisfied that Portadown police were acting “in accordance with the wishes of the community”.
He added, “I would appeal to them to remain alert to this, a scourge on the town, and send firm evidence to the PSNI.”