Organised prostitution run by criminal gangs remains a major problem in Ireland according to Ruhama, a frontline service working with victims of the crime.

The service has said that of the 92 victims of sex trafficking it worked with last year, 26 were new victims trafficked into the country, mainly by west African, eastern European and Asian criminal gangs.

The organisation is calling on gardaí to prosecute those who use the services of people in prostitution, and for the Government to make people aware that this has been an offence since new legislation was introduced last March.

Prostitution in Ireland is no longer street-based but still operates in the shadows, in apartments and homes via the internet.

However, Ruhama says it remains a multi-million euro criminal enterprise run by organised crime.

The victims were trafficked mainly from Nigeria, Brazil and Romania and forced into prostitution by criminal gangs.

The organisation says Chinese criminal gangs also traffic and force people into prostitution, usually using massage parlours as fronts for their operations.

Ruhama CEO Sarah Benson said: "Unscrupulous individuals make money from human misery - moving often vulnerable migrant women in a coordinated fashion from brothel to brothel across Ireland, with a view to satisfying local sex buyers' demands."

The organisation has called on gardaí to implement the legislation and prosecute sex buyers.

It is not aware of any case taken since this was made an offence last March and it says the prosecution of clients would act as a deterrent and damage the criminals' business.

Speaking on RTÉ's News At One, Ms Benson said it is important that Gardaí enforce the law which criminalises people who purchase sex.

She said they are complex crimes that require resources.

She called on the Government to resource the Gardaí to ensure organised prostitution and trafficking are dealt with.

She said: "The Government needs to ensure that the correct resources are given to Gardaí to resource the new national protective services bureau and the regional bureaus that are being developed because they have the mandate to deal with organised prostitution and trafficking.

"These are complex crimes that require resources," she added.