Statement: “Pop-up brothels”

Sex workers renting accommodation for a short period as part of a “tour” is nothing new but the increase in so called “pop-up brothels” is directly linked to police threatening women with prosecution and forcing women to move on all the time. So whilst the police complain about pop-up brothels and use them to lobby for more resources, it is the same police who are causing the problem.

A lot of women come to us saying they’ve been forced to move on. Women who’ve been in a place for 10 years or longer are seeing the police come round and – while they may not arrest anyone – tell the women they have a few days to close down or we’ll come back and prosecute you.

Some women have been forced to move multiple times in a few months. They can’t invest in security measures like CCTV or employ anyone to help keep them safe. Our latest report shows that closure orders are being widely used and every closure makes it harder for sex workers to insist on decent working conditions.

In some cities women are moving from place to place and because they only have a short space of time, they have less chance to refuse clients — a key marker of exploitation. One woman in our network said she was only getting to keep 40% of her hourly rate.

The focus on trafficking is based on fabricated figures about the numbers of victims trafficked into the sex industry. Anti-trafficking initiatives are primarily used to target and deport migrant women.