Suffolk: Police research discovers 400 premises in the county selling sex

The full scale of Suffolk’s off-street prostitution problem can today be revealed with police admitting there are more than 400 premises selling sex in the county.

Now the force is calling on the public to be vigilant and alert authorities if they believe vice is operating in their community.

Suffolk Constabulary conducted research into the issue as part of the prostitution and sexual exploitation strategy.

The strategy was launched in the wake of the murders of sex workers Tania Nicol, Gemma Adams, Anneli Alderton, Annette Nicholls and Paula Clennell in late 2006.

Initially the focus centred on eradicating street prostitution – a feat which has been achieved.

But now attention has been switched to dealing with the scourge of off-street prostitution, including massage parlours.

In some cases it is believed these activities involve the trafficking of women and men and the sexual exploitation of children.

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Suffolk police’s head of public protection, Detective Superintendent Alan Caton, said: “This is taking place in flats, houses, massage parlours and commercial premises.

“It is not a victimless crime – it involves vulnerable people being exploited.

“We will bring the people involved to justice and help keep the women who are engaged safe.

“It was always said that we have moved them from the streets but moved it more underground.

“This is a genuine holistic strategy and not about replacement – we will keep an eye on it and if they do move we will find them.

“At the moment support mechanisms are being put in place for women trying to get out of that lifestyle and a lot of women have turned their life around.”

Among the strategy’s aims are to prevent children under 18 in Suffolk from being sexually exploited, assist adults out of prostitution and sexual exploitation and identify those controlling and profiting from sexual exploitation

Det Supt Caton has now called on communities and neighbourhood watch teams to report any activities they deem as suspicious.

He believes police working with communities was essential to the success of removing prostitution from the streets and hopes they can achieve similar successes with off-street prostitution.

Brian Tobin, the director of Iceni, a drugs rehabilitation charity working to stop women entering the world of drugs and prostitution, has welcomed the move.

He said: “Anything the community can do to prevent people being forced into it (prostitution) has got to be applauded.”

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