Police let market town brothel stay open for 10 years, councillors say

Telegraph Reporters
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Councillors in a market town are demanding to know why a brothel was allowed to continue for ten years after police were first tipped off.

Officers finally raided the "massage parlour" in Trowbridge, Wilts, as part of an operation led by the National Crime Agency into human trafficking.

They found a punter with two middle-age English women who told him they were happy working at the sex den. The madame was traced as mother-of-two Marion Meyer-Smith, 49, who admitted running the brothel in the flat for 14 years.

Police should have shut it down, there's no doubt about it

Cllr Pete Fuller

She raked in between £100 - £150 a week from the two sex workers, both of whom were working in their hometown. Meyer-Smith, who lives in Chepstow, Gwent, was spared jail earlier this month with a 12-month term suspended for two years at Swindon Crown Court.

But the court heard that police had been tipped off about the brothel in Norwood Court by a local a decade earlier but failed to act until last June.

A letting agent contacted the police to tell them what was going on there and got an acknowledgement from the force.

Local councillor John Knight said: "It's absolutely shocking and inexcusable that the brothel was allowed to remain open and the police have a lot to answer for.

"I had no idea that kind of thing was going on there but if the police did they should have shut it down immediately.

"Prostitution really is a big problem and you have to wonder why Wiltshire Police aren't giving it a higher profile."

Cllr Pete Fuller added: "Police should have shut it down, there's no doubt about it. They should not choose which laws they uphold and which ones they don't or it would cause anarchy and leave them open to accusations.

"Some European countries are more liberal than us and don't seem to mind brothels but I for one hope they are never legalised in the UK."

Phoebe Kemp, 27, a prospective Labour councillor who lives in Norwood Court, said: "We've been here for 18 months and guessed something might have been going on.

"My partner used to see lots of strange people going in and out. It's worrying that police chose to let it continue - it makes me wonder what else they are turning a blind eye to.

"I would really like to know why they chose to let it remain open and I'm sure other people would, too."

Trowbridge mayor Linda Self said: "I do think the police should have closed it down when they first heard about it."

The same Wiltshire police force recently announced that 40 sex workers a week were selling their bodies in Swindon after being trafficked by Eastern European gangs.

Detective Sergeant Chris Hitchcock said: "Officers attended this address as part of a National Crime Agency led operation into human trafficking."

 

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