Police targeting Lancashire's "pop-up brothels" in week long purge

Poster alerting people to be on alert for cases of modern slavery.
Poster alerting people to be on alert for cases of modern slavery.

Five Preston properties have been targeted during a week long crackdown on “pop-up brothels” by Lancashire Constabulary.

The homes were visited earlier this week as part of ‘Operation Aident’, a nation wide campaign to stop such exploitation and end the hidden suffering of those forced to sell sexual services.

It is known properties in Deepdale, Ribbleton, Moor Park and Avenham areas were visited.

Operation Aident is a joint campaign between police, the National Crime Agency and law enforcement agencies. It is seeking to increase understanding of the scale of the threat modern slavery and human trafficking pose.

The “pop-up brothels” are often linked to adult websites and can involve human trafficking. Police say they both want to identify and support victims of sexual exploitation as well as arrest those suspected of crimes.

Det Sgt Abi Finch-Hall of Lancashire Police’s Human Trafficking and Modern Slavery team said: “Often rented properties or hotel rooms are used on a short term basis as a place to sell sex, hence the term ‘pop-up brothel’. Some people who advertise in this way may be victims of sexual exploitation, a form of modern slavery, in which they are controlled by their exploiter and forced to in to prostitution with no freedom of choice...Some adult sex websites are used by sex workers to advertise their services online.”

Futher county addresses are being visited and police are encouraging victims of modern slavery and human trafficking to come forward.

Sgt Finch-Hall said: “We want to offer help and advice for people who think they may be victims of human trafficking or slavery.”

Police are also asking the public to report suspicions about trafficking or modern slavery.

A spokesperson said: "We welcome community intelligence to help identify addresses where prostitution may be taking place. Where brothels are operating residents may notice frequent visitors to the address or experience an increase in vehicles visiting or leaving the location.

"They may experience noise at unsociable hours or encounter customers who accidentally knock on their door whilst trying to locate the address of the brothel. The occupants of the address may also change frequently. Not all sex workers will be victims of sexual exploitation however Lancashire Constabulary is committed to ensuring the safety of people operating in this industry”.

* Call the modern slavery helpline on 08000 121 700 or visit lancashire.police.uk/modernslavery

*Help available for victims includes the provision of temporary safe accommodation, legal advice, medical aid and a translation service.