Exploitation within the sex industry continued for much of the Covid-19 pandemic, with pimps and facilitators moving their exploitative practices online.

That is according to research in a report which has been published by the Immigrant Council of Ireland, highlighting Ireland's downfalls in supporting victims of human trafficking.

The report is the culmination of a two-year, pan-European initiative - the TRIPS project.

The EU funded anti-trafficking project analysed the integration conditions and risk for victims of being exposed or re-exposed to human trafficking in a number of countries, including Ireland.

The report says there were additional negative knock-on effects from the pandemic, including a significant reduction in public services to support victims of trafficking and the inability of victims to isolate or maintain social distance in cramped direct provision living conditions.

Beyond the pandemic, the TRIPS report identifies several key areas where Ireland is struggling to effectively support victims of trafficking, notably highlighting the distinctly different support and integration pathways that exist for victims identified through Ireland's human trafficking system compared to victims of trafficking in the international protection process who are not formally identified through the State system.

The TRIPS report accompanies the release of a best-practice toolkit for service-providers.

At the launch of the report, the manager of the HSE's Women's Health Service and Anti-Human Trafficking Team told the webinar about some of the people that attend the service.

Linda Latham said most of the people who are exploited for sex are moving around the country and are placed in apartments, hotels, brothels and massage parlours.

She said a person does not come from remote place in Nigeria or Brazil and organise themselves to travel around Ireland.

"We need need to debunk the myth that people are working independently in the sex industry", she said.

She told the webinar that her team can hear "the coached answers a mile off" from women who attend their service and where they can, the team follows up with women that they meet.

She cited the example of a woman who attended the service yesterday, who the outreach team will meet again next week.

The webinar heard that the HSE Women's Health Service is now a trauma led service.

Since 2017, all referrals regarding labour, sexual and forced criminality are referred to the service from where a care plan is initiated.

Ms Latham said there is constant fear amongst the women of violence, physical and sexual assault and improvements are needed in relation to the judicial process.

She said the implication of disclosure and visibility had to be considered as well as the length of time of judicial processes.

"This is where you need prolonged psychological interventions and therapies", she said.