The Oldest Profession

Sex den epidemic is still an issue 12 months on from the first pop-up brothel discovery

Published by Cornwall Live
12th July 2017

Police in Newquay say the temporary sex den epidemic which first came to light 12 months ago is still an issue in the resort. In July 2016, officers discovered a pop-up brothel on Seymour Avenue after worried neighbours alerted the authorities, having seen suspicious-looking men coming and going at all hours from a red-bricked suburban house. A further 13 sex dens were discovered in several locations in the town between September and January, mainly in holiday lets.

The apartments are booked online by the sex workers without the owner knowing exactly what's going on at the premises. The majority of the sex workers are from Poland and Romania, while the customers using the brothels are mainly local people.

Inspector Dave Meredith, Newquay's most senior police officer, has confirmed that his force discovered a further four pop-up brothels between April and June this year. Officers say women are being trafficked by international gangs, and that they are working hard to crack down on modern slavery and sexual exploitation.

Inspector Meredith admits the brothels are difficult for police to track. "We have had four further pop-brothels between April and June 2017, and I believe this is still an ongoing issue," he said. "They are difficult to track because the premises the sex workers use are usually holiday lets or apartments, and the booking is usually only for a week before they move on. Due to this short time period, it makes it very difficult."

Since the epidemic began officers have had to tell dozens of distraught second-home owners in the resort that their apartments have been used by sex workers for up to an entire week.

Inspector Meredith added: "The owner is away from the premises and obviously isn't aware of what's going on. The sex workers move quickly, they book the premises online via the internet and they also advertise their services online."

Inspector Meredith's officers have had some "upsetting" conversations with the holiday home owners. "A lot of them have these holiday homes or apartments as investments and they want to see them let out to families or similar, who do pay good money, and it's all done electronically on the internet.

"When we contact the owners and inform them that unfortunately for the last week sex workers have been operating in their apartments, obviously it's very upsetting and we can totally understand that."

Members of the public who live locally in the area can also play their part in putting a stop to the trade.

Inspector Meredith said: "What we ask is vigilance by the local public in Newquay. We ask them if they live near or in the vicinity of these sort of holiday lets or apartments to keep their eyes open. Especially if there are frequently people, especially males, coming or going, or if they have got any concerns about what could be going on. Anyone with concerns should call police via the 101 number, and we will investigate it."

The authorities say are determined to track down the gangs behind the rise in pop-up brothels across Cornwall.

Detective Inspector Alison Lander said tackling modern slavery is a priority for UK law enforcement. She said: "Working with national and international partners such as Europol we will use all the tools available to us to rescue victims and tackle those responsible. This was an opportunity for Devon and Cornwall Police to raise awareness within partner agencies around modern slavery, and particularly the aspect of sexual exploitation and to improve existing relationships with partner agencies in tackling this aspect of policing. Also, where possible, to form new relationships and initiatives."