The Times today has a report suggesting that sex slavery is expanding into leafy areas such as Cambridgeshire and Gloucestershire.
The victims’ stories are all-too-familiar: Young woman is lured to Britain with the promise of legitimate work, but on arrival her passport is confiscated, she is threatened with violence and sold to a brothel where she is forced to have unprotected sex in order to pay off “debts”.
Cambridgeshire police have raided 80 brothels this year, but as Chief Superintendent Paul Phillipson, the police commander in Peterborough explains, rescuing trafficking victims is not exactly at the forefront of police agenda:
“There are no Home Office targets for this kind of police work,” he said.
“This is rape and sexual abuse, happening on a daily basis, but it is unreported crime. I won’t achieve any reduction in crime statistics by closing brothels, I won’t achieve any of my core targets. But, quite frankly, I don’t care. As far as I’m concerned this is what police work is about and I know that it’s the right thing to do.
“We were hardly the sex industry capital of Britain. But it was happening below the radar, behind closed doors and only ever came to our attention in a minor way with complaints about cars late at night, strange men knocking on doors in residential areas.
“I have been very surprised by what we have found. I would never have thought it was possible for someone to sell a woman. I can’t comprehend the mindset that values a human being so lowly that they treat them as a commodity. That’s slavery.”