Police launch people trafficking raids

An operation targeting organised prostitution across the south of England has been orchestrated from Ipswich.

Officers raided a working brothel in London Road, where three Eastern European women were discovered, believed to be involved in the sex trade.

Suffolk Police yesterday led the siege, which saw simultaneous raids by constabularies in Norfolk, Essex, Wiltshire and Devon.

Police descended on the London Road address at around 3pm accompanied multi-agency representative including by Janet Humphrey, who earlier this year was awarded for her work to stop prostitution in the town following the Ipswich murders in 2006.

Detective Inspector Bernie Morgan and officers from the Serious and Organised Crime Agency led the operation, codenamed Oakland, which has since February gathered intelligence on a criminal people trafficking cell operating from the town. DI Morgan said: “By executing search warrants we intend to identify the victims who are forced or coerced into doing something against their will. They will be afforded the best care by a vulnerable persons team which accompanies us on every warrant of this kind.

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“Any such premises will be closed down and the operation will continue identifying links with organised crime.”

Since April, police have been given the power to arrest those who solicit sex at organised brothels, but no customers were found at the London Road address yesterday.

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Janet Humprhey, who gave evidence as a police officer at the trial that convicted Steve Wright of the murders of five sex workers, was one of the first people inside the two bedroom flat, situated in the same road on which Wright lived. She said: “Off-street prostitution is all about money. It can be more difficult than street prostitution because it is behind closed doors and the women can often be subjected to assaults.

“No one wants to sell their bodies five or six times a day to different men. What happens to these women is grotesque.”

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