In a major police operation, 18 brothels were raided and shut down, which critics say will force sex workers onto the street
The mass closure of brothels in Soho has drawn criticism from a local parish priest who says it could increase risks to sex workers.
The Rev Simon Buckley of St Anne’s Rectory in Soho, has written to the bishop of London and senior police officers to complain the behavior of the police during the dawn raids was “unacceptable and at times unlawful.”
The Observer reports he went on to express fears the closures would force sex workers onto the streets, where they are “more vulnerable to abuse, attack and rape.”
Activists say Soho is one of the safest places for prostitutes to work, with CCTV covering most flats and live in ‘maids’ to monitor customers.
The Metropolitan police’s Operation Companion saw 250 officers raid and close 18 brothels throughout the Soho area. The raids were often carried out in riot gear and using police dogs.
One woman was reportedly forced out onto the street wearing only her underwear as police raided the flat she was working in.
Police say the raids were intended to target a stolen goods hotspot, and to monitor the area for signs of trafficking.
While it is not a criminal offence to sell sex for money, police can close brothels if they can prove women are being coerced into working.