25 arrested over underage prostitution

Police say it is unacceptable that so many under-age girls are involved in prostitution in South Auckland, with some as young as 13 being removed from the streets for their own safety.

Detective Senior Sergeant Dave Pizzini, officer in charge of Counties Manukau child abuse team, said 25 people were arrested this month in Operation Capio focused on under-aged prostitution in South Auckland.

Sixteen young people were removed from the streets and either returned to their families or placed in the care of Child Youth and Family.

"Whilst it is accepted that prostitution in the right circumstances is legal, it is unacceptable that so many young people are involved in this industry as the consequences on their lives can be long lasting and serious."

He said a number of men of varying ages would be appearing before the courts, as a result of the operation, on charges involving sexual activity with girls aged under 18 years.

"This is not a standalone operation as other anti-social and criminal activity such as street violence and drug dealing are closely linked," Mr Pizzini said.

"Men engaging in this activity are put on notice that they will be arrested, and may well receive visits from the police at their homes or work place."

Mr Pizzini said that some girls as young as 13 and 14 were removed from the streets to places of safety during the operation only to be caught again in the same circumstances later in the operation.

"A strong starting point would be parents and caregivers taking more interest in the safety and well being of their children before it is too late for these young persons' lives to be ruined by this criminal activity."

Mr Pizzini said during the operation police formed strong relationships with other government and non-government partner organisations.

"There is a strong commitment for agencies to work together for the sake of the safety and well being of vulnerable young people."

His team was keen to hear from anyone with information about the involvement of young people in the sex industry.

Information could be given confidentially if required by telephoning him at on 09-2591034.

- NZPA

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