04:47, December 28 78 0 theguardian.com

2017-12-28 04:47:03
Derby bishop warns of 'pop-up brothels' in Peak District

Homeowners renting out holiday cottages should beware of short lets becoming “pop-brothels” in the Peak District and beyond, a bishop has warned.

The Rt Rev Alastair Redfern said vulnerable young women, often from eastern Europe, were being trafficked to the area as sex workers.

Redfern, the bishop of Derby, who has been working with the House of Lords to improve laws on the issue, said traffickers were renting holiday homes for a month to use them as brothels before moving to another area.

“Derby is a place where eastern European women have come over in search for a better life, but they have been forced into working in a brothel and they have their life taken from them,” he told the Derby Telegraph.

“In the Peak District, there are lots of holiday homes used as pop-up brothels. The organised criminals bring the vulnerable women in and then use a cottage for business. They stay for four weeks and make a lot of money.

“All they are paying is the rent. But they are in secluded areas and, before anyone realises what is going on or becomes suspicious about anything, then they are off to a new place and they take the women with them.”

Redfern said the 55-sq mile Peak District, which covers parts of Derbyshire, Yorkshire, Staffordshire and Cheshire, was favoured by traffickers for its seclusion and because it was relatively inexpensive to rent holiday cottages.

The bishop, who regularly meets victims as part of his work campaigning against human trafficking, said women were coming to Derby on the false promise of restaurant or bar work then forced into prostitution.

He said: “This is a serious criminal business. They are placed and forced to work in brothels because the work they were promised does not exist, they have very limited grasp of the language and have no money.

“She is then offered drugs as that’s another way to exert control. She becomes addicted and then starts to lose everything.

“I have met a victim living in London who has been raped 10 times a day. They have lost their dignity, lost their purpose. The promises they have been offered are broken. This is happening in Derby as well.”

An all-party group of MPs launched an inquiry into the pop-up brothel trend in October after police reported a growing problem in seaside towns such as Newquay in Cornwall, as well as suburban or rural towns and villages.

A recent study by the Police Foundation identified 65 brothels in Bristol over a two-year period. More than three-quarters of these were found to be linked to organised crime groups. Police also reported finding pop-up brothels in Cambridge, Gloucester, Norwich and Preston.

Redfern said men were also being exploited by traffickers. He said he had come across 20 men living in a two-bedroom house in West Yorkshire with one toilet, being transported to work having been stripped of their passports.

“Their very humanity has been knocked out. They are broken and their ability to think of themselves as human beings is very weak indeed. They are living in horrible cramped conditions,” he said.

“Bank accounts have been opened in their names but they have no idea. They have been signed up to various benefits but they are not getting a penny. The controllers and the owners are getting it all, while the victims are working all day for hardly any money. This is a serious and organised criminal business.”