South Yorkshire Police has revealed details of the offences it recorded last year, after The Star revealed police chiefs’ concerns over ‘pop-up’ brothels in the city.
They stated that in 2021 they recorded one offence of causing/ inciting prostitution for gain; and three offences of controlling prostitution for gain. There were four separate suspects.
Detective Chief Inspector Nikki Leach told The Star in an interview this week that brothels, in any guise, are illegal, but prostitution is not, and police had to strike a balance and protect vulnerable women.
She said police would not allow premises to run as a brothel, where overt sex work was taking place and it was managed by somebody. However a massage parlour, where anything short of sexual activity is taking place, was legal, and agencies tried to engage with such places.
But she said she was concerned over ‘pop-up’ brothels being run in residential properties which were not monitored and may have links to organised crime. Offences such as people trafficking and exploitation were a concern.
What brothels have been raided in Sheffield and South Yorkshire?
However, a number of high profile cases have seen police and the courts take action over the sex industry over the last few years.
Most recently, in October 2021, Burngreave neighbourhood policing team secured a closure order for a property on Burngreave Road because of its links to drugs and prostitution.
Earlier in the same year, police launched an investigation following the discovery of a brothel operating in Upperthorpe, Sheffield.
Officers who visited the property found a trafficked 42-year-old woman from China ‘who appeared to have been coerced against their will under false pretenses’.
Police raided Pandora’s massage parlour in Attercliffe in November 2017 – with three men and two women arrested and charged with human trafficking as a result.
A closure notice was served on the massage parlour under the Sexual Offences Act.
A brother and sister were later jailed for 21 months each for trafficking a young Romanian woman who was forced to work as a prostitute.
In August 2010, a man was convicted of running a brothel in a terraced house on Alma Road, in Rotherham, while on day release from prison. He was supposed to be working for a tyre firm.
He had two years added to his previous jail term, after advertising extensively and recruiting mainly Eastern European women to carry out the services. He had nearly £2,000 on him when he was arrested. He admitted keeping a brothel for prostitution.
One of the most high profile sex industry operations was in 2004, when officers carried out raids at Omega Sauna, in Attercliffe, in 2004.
They made 13 arrests and rounded up 45 illegal immigrants suspected of working as prostitutes. Its owners were fined and jailed for tax fraud, and ordered to pay £1.4 million to the authorities.
The building was later converted into a successful fish and chip shop.