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BBC NI's Annita McVeigh reports
Girls used in a prostitution ring spreading across NI
 real 28k

Thursday, 2 March, 2000, 13:48 GMT
Teen prostitution ring alleged

Children as young as 13 said to be involved
Police and social services are investigating claims that teenage girls from a care home have been involved in a child prostitution ring across Northern Ireland.

The allegations involve girls as young as 13.

A team of RUC officers attached to a specialised unit dealing with child sex abuse is conducting the inquiry.

A police spokesman said: "The RUC can confirm that officers from its Child Abuse and Rape Inquiry Unit are investigating claims that teenage girls in care have been involved in prostitution.


We're talking about children who are already in the care system and are therefore vulnerable

Lynda Wilson, Barnardos
"The investigation is at an early stage but a number of lines of inquiry are being followed."

It has been reported that the children absconded from a residential home to engage in prostitution at hotels throughout the province.

It has also been claimed that men involved in the alleged acts were aware that the girls were under-age.

The department of health and social services is aware of the allegations.

A spokeswoman for the department said: "We can confirm that there is an investigation going on at the moment.

"The investigation is being carried out in accordance with the joint protocol between the police and social services."


Lynda Wilson: Saddened by claims
Director of Barnardos NI, Lynda Wilson said the allegations were "sad and very worrying".

"We're talking about children who are already in the care system and are therefore vulnerable.

"The allegations are that these children have been subsequently abused again through prostitution.

"It's not unexpected and I think that's sad because we've seen similar patterns in the rest of the UK."

It is not known at this stage how far back the allegations date.
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