Fenland brothels targeted by police

PUBLISHED: 10:18 07 August 2007 | UPDATED: 22:58 28 May 2010

CRACKDOWN ON SEX-TRAFFICKING: DCI Paul Fullwood from the Serious and Organised Crime Department. 

Picture: NATALIE BOWYER

CRACKDOWN ON SEX-TRAFFICKING: DCI Paul Fullwood from the Serious and Organised Crime Department. Picture: NATALIE BOWYER

BROTHELS in Fenland were among those visited by undercover police in a crackdown on sex-trafficking across the county.

Cambs Police today launched Operation Radium, aimed at pinpointing an estimated 100 brothels in Cambridgeshire and ending a wide-spread

BROTHELS in Fenland were among those visited by undercover police in a crackdown on sex-trafficking across the county.

Cambs Police today launched Operation Radium, aimed at pinpointing an estimated 100 brothels in Cambridgeshire and ending a wide-spread sex slave trade.

Head of the force's Serious and Organised Crime Unit, Detective Chief Inspector Paul Fullwood, said: "This is an evil and disgusting trade which has links with many other areas of crime, and with the public's help we are determined to stamp it out."

Operation Radium forms part of a national drive against the sex slave trade which lures young women into the UK, many from Eastern Europe, Africa and the Far East, with the promise of lucrative jobs.

"Intelligence already tells us just how widespread this trade is," said DCI Fullwood. "But we know that many brothels operate under the guise of other businesses, or they may just be ordinary-looking homes in quiet, residential neighbourhoods.

"This is where the public can be our eyes and ears. People see and hear things in the streets where they live.

"A brothel in any community, obvious or not, is a magnet for those involved in other crime such as robbery and drugs dealing.

"The people who run these establishments lure young girls to this country with all sorts of promises - like citizenship and successful careers.

"Often the first thing that happens is that their passport is confiscated. Then they are held captive in appalling conditions, forced to do things against their will and given little income or even the basic necessities of life.

"Many are subjected to appalling violence and are moved around the county to be sold at auction to the highest bidder.

"At the same time, the criminals enslaving these young women are making tens of thousands of pounds.

"With the public's help we plan to identify the premises where these brothels operate and end this trade," said DCI Fullwood.

Posters and information cards urging communities to be vigilant and report any suspicions will be distributed across Cambridgeshire in the next few weeks.

The so-called 'clients' of the sex trade will also be asked as part of the public appeal to anonymously report situations where they think women are victims rather than willing sex workers.

And helpline cards for the victims to make contact with the police and partner agencies will be put at strategic locations.

Victim Case studies

Victim A

Victim A was a 30 year old Czech mother-of-two who was forced into prostitution following her arrival in the UK in August 2006. She has been held at locations in Gloucester, London and Peterborough, finally escaping from the last house by climbing through a window, whilst another girl was asleep. During her time in the UK she has been beaten and raped up to 25 times a day.

She was persuaded to travel to Britain by a male associate who promised a lucrative job as a waitress and a better lifestyle. Victim A entered the UK via a regional airport at which time she was taken to a Gloucester brothel, where her ID documents were taken away, she was subjected to beatings and she was forced to work as a prostitute, but did not receive any money for this work. She was later moved to brothels in London, and Peterborough from where she escaped in 2007.

Following Victim A's escape and the involvement of Cambridgeshire Constabulary, she has been supported by the Poppy Project in London and has now returned to her home and children in Czechoslovakia.

Victim B

Victim B is a 21 year old Roma Gypsy from Slovakia with learning difficulties. Whilst in her home town she and a friend met a male Gypsy who offered them work as shop assistants. The same day Victim B left without her parents' knowledge and was picked up by the male Gypsy, not knowing where they were being taken. Details of the journey to the UK are sketchy, although the girls travelled into the UK on a boat.

Victim B did not know she had arrived in the UK but describes a long car journey before arriving at a house in an unknown location, where a Middle Eastern male paid £1,000 each for her and her friend before taking her to a brothel in Peterborough. On her first night at the address Victim B was raped and threatened with violence.

Whilst working at the Peterborough brothel, Victim B was beaten repeatedly, and forced into prostitution whilst having threats made against her life if she should leave the address. Victim B was told she would receive half of the money that she made as a prostitute, but that the brothel owners would look after the money until she was ready to go home. In reality she received £10 a week to pay for food, toiletries and a £40 rent fee.

In spring of 2007 Victim B attended a health clinic suffering from an acute pelvic condition, related to her sexual activity, and causing her so much more pain she was unable to have sex any longer. Whilst at the clinic she alerted staff to her circumstances and requested help.

Cambridgeshire police were contacted and a search warrant was executed at the brothel in Peterborough with two Lithuanian females arrested for management of a brothel.

Victim B was provided supported by the Poppy Project in London and has now returned to Slovakia.

Victim C

Victim C is a Ugandan female, who was trafficked into the country at the age of 16 by a known male and forced to work as a prostitute. On finding out she was pregnant; Victim C was bought to Peterborough by her pimp and dumped in the city.

She is now being provided support by Social Services and the NHS and is in temporary foster care locally.

Victim D

Victim D is a 37 year old Chinese national female, found working in a brothel in Cambridge during one of the Police intelligence gathering visits. She states that she entered the UK illegally four years ago after paying £3,000 to a Snakehead group in China to smuggle her into the country. Victim B left her two children in the care of a neighbour and regularly sends money home to them.

Victim D arrived in the country via Heathrow airport and initially worked in the catering industry in London, before meeting a female who offered her work in a brothel in Cambridgeshire. Victim D now works as a cook and cleaner in the brothel, sending home between £300 to £700 a month to China.

Victim E

Victim E is a 38 year old Chinese female, who came to the UK in early 2007 via Holland. She had built up high levels of debt in China and wanted to come to the UK to earn better money in the catering trade. Whilst working in a London restaurant she met a couple who said she could earn better money and pay off her debt working within a massage parlour.

Since that point Victim E has worked in brothels in London, Manchester and Cambridge having sex without around 3-4 clients daily. Her clients are predominantly white English males. Sadly, Victim E charges less for sexual services than a genuine massage.

Victim E can make up to £2,000 a month. This money is handed over to the owner of massage parlour who promises they will send the money back to China on her behalf. It is not known whether or not this has occurred.

Victims F and G

Victims F and G are 18 and 21 year old Lithuanian females who were found working in a brothel in Peterborough. Despite initially stating that they were both working voluntarily to pay for college fees in Lithuania, the elder of the two girls later stated she was in debt to a Russian male who had threatened that he would harm her if she did not continue to work to pay off her debt.

The brothel was one of the most concerning visited by police as Op Radium, with girls having sex with between 15 and 30 clients a day charging between £30 to £50 each time. As well as finding large quantities of sex-related paraphernalia and pornographic material, quantities of burnt foil were found in the premises indicating heroin use.

FACT SHEET

* There are an estimated 50 to 100 brothels operating across Cambridgeshire. Initial intelligence alone identified 57 possible brothels

* These were: 36 in Peterborough,11 in Cambridge, 5 in Fenland, 2 in Huntingdonshire, 2 in East Cambridgeshire and 1 in South Cambridgeshire

* There have been initial, covert visits to 41 of these. In Northern division (Peterborough) 12 were clearly identified. In Southern (Cambridge and surrounding area) four have been identified and in Central Division (Huntingdonshire and Fenland) one.

* Of those not identified, a number were vacant or had changed address. Some were empty at the time of the visit and are being followed up by neighbourhood teams

* Records kept in one brothel in Cambridgeshire show victims have been providing sexual services to between 15 and 30 men a day.

* Earnings vary between £300 and £1500 a day

* Potential profits for controlling crime groups vary. One example shows that traffickers controlling just two victims would make £1000 to £2000 a week.

* Figures suggest that the average cost of buying a victim is between £2000 and £3000

* Cambridgeshire intelligence suggests victims have been bought for anything between £1000 and £5000

* The most recent identified victim in the county was 16 years old and 24 weeks pregnant when discovered.

* So far 20 people have been arrested - 16 for immigration offences, one for management of a brothel, three for trafficking offences and one for fraud.

(Anyone with information can do that - by calling Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111).

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