Scotland under fire for high-profile raids on Edinburgh saunas after Crown Office drops brothel cases

Feb 29, 2016
Sex Work News
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THE Crown Office has dropped the cases against eleven people charged with brothel offenses, prompting criticism of Police Scotland for its high profile raids on Edinburgh’s saunas.

Six men and five women were set for a court hearing in November, but prosecutors backed off and have now abandoned the proceedings.

Many of Edinburgh’s saunas have effectively operated as brothels since the mid-1980s.

The approach had the tacit support of the former Lothian and Borders police force and the council in Edinburgh, which provided saunas with public entertainment licenses.

Supporters of the policy, which amounted to the decriminalization of prostitution, argued that licensing kept sex workers safe.

However, despite the regime operating for nearly three decades, around 150 police officers took part in raids on some of the premises in 2013.

Operation Windermere occurred weeks after the single force came into being and was interpreted as Police Scotland imposing the ethos of the old Strathclyde force on Edinburgh.

The action worried councillors who believed their licensing policy had been undermined.

As a result of the raids, the local authority ripped up its long-standing policy by no longer licensing the saunas, which now operate on an unregulated basis.

The police investigation led to criminal charges in relation to alleged brothel-keeping and other offenses and eleven people appeared in court last year.

Ian Douglas Haig and his brother Charles Haig, who were 72 and 75 when they appeared at Edinburgh Sheriff Court, denied being involved in the management of a brothel at Scorpio Leisure in Edinburgh and at other addresses.

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