Police have arrested more than 400 people for allegedly 'keeping brothels' since 2017, according to figures obtained by Sky News.
Sky News sent freedom of information requests to 45 police forces asking for the number of arrests for suspected
brothel-keeping offences from January 2017 to the end of August 2020.
The response was that police forces have detained at least 408 suspects in England, Wales and Northern Ireland since the start of 2017.
Although there has been an 11%
drop in arrests so far this year compared with 2019, officers have still been targeting brothels during the coronavirus pandemic.
In a policy of callous disregard for the safety of sex workers, keeping a brothel is defined in the UK as more than
one sex worker working from premises. So even just 2 sex workers working together for safety is then construed as a brothel. The English Collective of Prostitutes explains on its website:
If you work with someone else
in a flat you can be done for running a brothel, even if you are not there at the same time.
Emily, whose name has been changed to protect her identity, commented:
How can we keep ourselves safe when we're
on our own? It puts you in danger on a daily basis.
She called it draconian that she could end up with at least seven years in prison for running the flat if caught by police:
You live in fear of what can
go wrong -- a knock on the door can mean that you're criminalised yet what you do is spend all day trying to make people happy. We're not actually doing anything that's criminal, she said. It's the laws that are criminal.
figures revealed that at least 64 people were arrested between January and August this year. Kent Police disclosed the highest number of arrests of any force, with 99 since 2017. Other hotspots included Thames Valley (45 arrests), Bedfordshire (32) and
Many of the arrests do not result in prosecutions, with figures from the Ministry of Justice revealing that only 48 people were put on trial from 2017 to 2019.
Prostitution is a form of commercial sexual exploitation. Commercial sexual exploitation persists as a result of how women are viewed by society.
The Scottish Government's
definition of gender based violence is clearly set out in Equally Safe, Scotland's strategy for preventing and eradicating violence against women and girls:
Gender based violence is a function of gender inequality, and an abuse of
male power and privilege. It takes the form of actions that result in physical, sexual and psychological harm or suffering to women and children, or affront to their human dignity, including threats of such acts, coercion or arbitrary deprivation of
liberty, whether occurring in public or private life. It is men who predominantly carry out such violence, and women who are predominantly the victims of such violence. By referring to violence as 'gender based' this definition highlights the need to
understand violence within the context of women's and girl's subordinate status in society. Such violence cannot be understood, therefore, in isolation from the norms, social structure and gender roles within the community, which greatly influence
women's vulnerability to violence
Equally Safe Priority 4 states the Scottish Government's priority to ensure men desist from all forms of violence against women and girls and perpetrators of such violence receive a robust and
effective response. This violence includes the violence perpetrated by men in relation to acts of commercial sexual exploitation, of which prostitution is one aspect.
The consultation is being taken forward under Equally Safe and
fulfils the 2019-20 Programme for Government commitment to consult on approaches to challenge men's demand for prostitution, continue to support work to reduce the harms associated with commercial sexual exploitation and help women to exit prostitution.
The aim of the consultation is to gather views on how best to challenge men's demand for prostitution in Scotland, reducing the harms associated with prostitution and supporting women involved to exit. The consultation paper
invites views from a wide range of readers including key stakeholders, statutory partners, those who work in the sector to challenge men's demand for prostitution, support women and those who may have lived experience to help inform the development of
future approaches to prostitution in Scotland.
Britain's sex industry is still far from normal as prostitutes slowly start to work the streets again and brothels begin reopening in the wake of lockdown. But demand from Brits is not what it was before the pandemic, as many appear hesitant to get their
Laura Watson has been involved with the English Collective of Prostitutes for 10 years. The group represent sex worker across the country. She explained that:
There are still clients out there -- during
lockdown that obviously decreased and it is not like it is anything near normal, but there is a demand out there. It's women's need for money that fuels the industry -- women go into it for financial aid.
It was reported that just
one-in-three sex workers continued to meet up face to face during lockdown. Others took their business online using web cams.
Research on one adult website showed that thousands of escorts and sex workers are now listing themselves as available. One
website appeared to have 21,827 escorts on its books. And there were 10,000 in London alone, with other popular areas including 1,341 in Manchester and 1,630 in Birmingham.
It hasn't gone back to
normal in that women have put whatever safety procedures they can in place. All the measures that the Government have deemed safe, including social distancing when they can, and the general measures have been mainly implicated. I think women are trying
their best to keep as safe as possible. It's understood that some women have used paper bed sheets and extra sanitisers in a bid to avoid contracting and spreading the virus.