In the well-kept terraced streets of north London, three sex workers take turns seeing clients in an anonymous-looking flat, sharing a calendar and pencilling in bookings around each other. The flat looks like any other — colourful mugs in the kitchen, a bowl of food by the door for the resident ginger tomcat. The work room has pastel bedsheets, a fluffy rug, mirrors, bedside lamps: it looks like any feminine but nondescript bedroom.
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Sex workers were forced to sell cocaine and crystal meth. A husband and wife have been jailed for a total of more than 12 years for sex trafficking, prostitution and possession of class A drugs with an intent to supply. Investigations began when a woman in her 30s reported to Kensington Police Station in that she had been trafficked from China in and forced to work as a sex worker since. Tsang would drive the women to the appointments while Pan would arrange Brothel north london and give details to the sex workers on what clients wanted.
Police are choosing to allow brothels to operate providing they create a safe environment for women, one former detective - now a brothel owner - has told the BBC's Victoria Derbyshire programme. We have been to meet the women working in his premises.
The brothel operating 'in full view of police'
The small, smart two-bedroom flat in a Victorian residential block could not be further from what you might expect of a brothel. Many across the UK use trafficked or drug-addicted women who are controlled by pimps, but this is different. The interior of the central London apartment is modern, pleasant and warm - there are no grubby net curtains at the windows, or threadbare sheets on the beds.
Sitting on the brown, faux-leather sofa in the living room is "Cherub", from Romania, in a dark red bra and knickers, and nude patent heels from Primark. Next to her is "Janine", wearing a short black satin robe over purple underwear.
Two thugs armed with axe who broke into north london brothel and raped two prostitutes before fleeing with cash and mobile phone are jailed for 33 years
One of the women, however, is happy to open up about all aspects of her work, and be pictured. She is also keen to challenge the stigma around sex work. For her it is a choice, she says, and she is not being exploited. The conversation is punctuated every 10 minutes by Brothel north london phone or front door bell ringing - a man making a booking or arriving for his "appointment".
A busy day for Louise would involve eight or nine clients.
Two thugs who broke into north london brothel and raped two prostitutes are jailed for 33 years
We spoke to 11 women and members of staff at the brothel, who all told us they were working there by choice, and not under the control of anyone else. We were not allowed to speak to any of the clients and none of them knew we were there. No-one could say if the neighbours were aware of what went on in the flat.
One of the maids - or receptionists - who has been in the industry for more than two decades, says the profile of customers has changed during that time. It's become a lot more normalised. Double doors lead from the living room to a small hall, off which there are two bedrooms one en suite and a tiny bathroom.
They look like mid-range hotel rooms - cream walls, dark grey bedding dressed with a couple of silk cushions. Either side of the double bed is a wooden chest of drawers containing multiple packets of baby wipes, and nappy sacks for used condoms.
A well-thumbed copy of Men's Health magazine sits next to the bed. Between clients, the women sit around drinking tea, scrolling through their phones, and laughing about a customer who had wanted Janine to pretend she had "dumped him". Astonishingly, the year-old brothel owner, Karl, is a former police officer.
The father-of-one says he has been in the role for 15 years. His teenage daughter doesn't know about his job. Despite it being illegal to operate a brothel in England and Wales - although not illegal to buy and sell sex - Karl says he has no moral qualms about breaking the law because he does not agree with it, and he says he is not exploiting the women who work for him.
We check everyone's passports," he says. Karl - whose surname we are not using - says he has Brothel north london that twice in the past decade and a half. He says he operates the brothel in full knowledge of the authorities, and claims they are willing to let him continue as long as the women are in a safe environment. The National Police Chiefs' Council NPCC lead for prostitution and sex working, Assistant Chief Constable Dan Vajzovic, says: "Officers will now consider a range of factors, including the safety of those sex workers involved, before deciding on whether prosecution is the most appropriate response to an offence.
He says it remains a priority to "crack down on those who use their position to exploit the vulnerable".
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While Karl and Louise argue for legalisation, feminist Julie Bindel who has written a book on the trade, said legalised brothels were actually worse. She interviewed women who worked in prostitution during her research. And we can't keep accepting and condoning it, the buying and selling of the inside of women's bodies.
Both Karl and Louise say they pay tax on their earnings. Karl and his wife have a limited company, registered as an escort agency. Louise agrees with Karl that brothels should be legalised.
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Related Topics. Prostitution Sex industry. More on this story. Published 8 April Published 13 December