Page last updated at 09:54 GMT, Monday, 8 March 2010

New NI sex laws 'will protect vulnerable women'

Police will have greater power to tackle kerb crawlers

Tougher laws to protect women who have been forced into prostitution are to be introduced in Northern Ireland.

From 1 April, police will also have greater powers to tackle kerb crawlers.

Under new UK-wide legislation, men who pay for sex with women who have been coerced into providing it, will not be able to argue their ignorance.

They could face a fine of up to £1,000 and will also have a criminal record, Criminal Justice Minister Paul Goggins said.

"Dealing with human trafficking and the exploitation of vulnerable women is a high priority and part of the government's strategy for tackling the demand for prostitution," he said.

"These tough new laws will bring greater protection to those who are subjected to exploitative conduct."

The changes in the law mean that police police will no longer have to prove that kerb crawlers, either in a vehicle or on foot, are being persistent before arresting them.

The measures are part of UK-wide legislation in the Policing and Crime Act 2009.

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