Moves to tackle backstreet brothels announced as prostitution pushed behind closed doors

Ross Hatfull

Ross Hatfull - Credit: Archant

Measures to tackle prostitution have forced sex workers off the streets and into makeshift brothels set up in rented flats.

Cllr Ross Hatfull, Redbridge Council’s cabinet member for community safety and enforcement, said the authority and the police had vowed to investigate suspected brothels within 48 hours of them being reported in a new crackdown on the illegal sex shops.

Cllr Hatfull said: “With the work on Ilford Lane, there’s been a big increase in off-street prostitution. We’ve noticed it in Ilford.

“What we are trying to do is close these down within 48 hours.

“If someone phones in and says a property is a brothel, and other residents confirm it as a brothel, and the police are happy it’s not a malicious call, they will go.”

He said officers would be joined by outreach workers to check on the welfare of any prostitutes found at the sites.

“If they can close them down within 48 hours then the people behind it don’t make any money, because they’ve got to pay the deposit and rent up front,” said Cllr Hatfull.

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“It will discourage them from setting up.”

New legislation has given the police and council new powers to tackle anti-social behaviour by making it illegal for anyone other than the legal occupant of a property to be there, which are useful for shutting down brothels and drug dens.

Last month the powers were used to shut down a suspected brothel operating in Mansfield Road, Goodmayes, after calls from residents.

“It’s early days – the one on Mansfield Road was the first one they did,” said Cllr Hatfull.

“The police are committed to rolling this out everywhere.”