24 November 2005

PSNI focus on brothels

Daily Ireland

PSNI set up dedicated vice squad to deal with the rise of prostitution in the North

Connla Young

The PSNI has set up a dedicated vice squad to deal with a recent explosion in the North’s
lucrative sex-for-sale industry.
Until now neither the PSNI, nor its predecessor, the RUC, had a unit dealing specifically with the the North’s hugely profitable sex-trade industry.
However, a recent jump in the number of brothels emerging across Belfast has forced the PSNI’s top brass to set up a drug and vice unit which falls under the umbrella of CID.
Operating out of Musgrave Street PSNI station in Belfast city centre, the special unit, which was established in September, has been ordered to clamp down on the city’s spiralling sex-trade industry.
Worried PSNI chiefs are also understood to have requested expert advice from Nottinghamshire Police Service about the full extent of Belfast’s vice-trade scourge. In recent years, law enforcers in Nottingham have been involved in a battle to bust dozens of brothels littering its suburbs.
The PSNI last night said no one was available to confirm how many brothels it believes are currently operating across the North. However, Daily Ireland understands that PSNI vice squad chiefs estimate there may be as many as 40 in south Belfast alone.
The North’s first vice squad evolved from a working group set up by the PSNI in south Belfast last year to examine the full extent of the region’s seedy sex-trade industry.
Figures revealed by the PSNI show that since the formation of the vice squad, over 20 raids have been carried out on premises in the North’s sex-for-sale capital – south Belfast.
Many of the North’s bustling brothels currently operate under the cover of south Belfast’s tree-lined avenues. Dotted by the homes of some of the North’s most powerful political and business leaders, the sedate district has been turned into a Mecca for sleazy thrill-seekers from across the island.
Streetwalkers, who traditionally plied their elicit trade along the city’s infamous golden mile, have been replaced in recent years by dozens of high-class hookers who operate out of exclusive apartments and homes in some of the city’s most sought after addresses.
And the grip of greedy pimps stretches beyond the boundaries of Belfast as more and more market towns get caught up in the sex-for-cash web currently stretching across the North.
Daily Ireland is aware of a number of madams currently operating in towns such as Omagh, Dungannon and Derry City.
The PSNI came under pressure to deal with the rise in prostitution in the North after a number of foreign women were detected operating out of a house in the Tates Avenue district of Belfast in November 2003. Since then, dozens of fresh brothels have opened across the North, with many using foreign women, in some cases against their will.
Belfast-based pimps are known to have strong cross-Border links. Several sophisticated syndicates use the
internet to offer 24-7 “services” to potential punters.

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