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Usually people rent Airbnb rooms to take a vacation, to relax and enjoy somewhere new. And usually, homeowners don’t expect prostitutes to set up shop in their homes, transforming them into makeshift brothels. Well, that’s exactly what’s happening in some areas in the UK, and authorities are seeing what they can do about it.
So apparently renters book a location, then advertise weeks before their stay to potential clients. Each flat rented out is approximately £1000 a week, and they set up shop for several weeks. In a business sense, it’s kind of smart. Having a temporary location would make it more difficult to track them down, wouldn’t it?
Authorities in Gloucestershire discovered several venues hosting such brothels last week and made several arrests. Tactical lead for sex exploitation in the Gloucestershire Police force, Sergeant Matt Puttock, had this to say about the matter:
Some of these places visited have been Airbnbs that have been rented out for a week or two.
These are by their nature often quite hidden places. It’s very transient as they often hire Airbnb places or other serviced apartments.
Many times neighbours do not know what is going on. Landlords have often used us as mediators to try and remove these people once they know what they are up to.
We collected various bits of information and visited these places not to criminalise the sex workers, but to check on their safety.
We interview all the women and check why they are there and whether they want to be there.
Generally we have no power to make them leave the situation they are in but we can use various methods to remove women if needs be.
But it is difficult. Some are brainwashed to not to talk to the police or any other authority.
So it’s a bit of a tricky situation. It’s good that they’re not trying to criminalize the workers there, and even better that they’re checking to make sure that they want to be there. In the end, though, it’s still a situation that requires attention.
So far, similar situations were in 14 Airbnb brothels in Newquay between last summer and January, and other venues were in Cornwall, the Lake District, Bournemouth, Cambridge, Preston, Aberdeen, and Norwich. Also, apparently Romanian traffickers have a route set up throughout the country through utilizing Airbnbs. That makes things seem a little scarier, I will admit. Hopefully homeowners learn of this situation and keep an eye on the venues they rent out.
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