Information on the local sex trade is constantly being fed to Horsham police, but the local force has not raided any properties this year relating to such trafficking.
In an interview with the County Times, Sharon Parker, Chief Inspector of Horsham district, explained how the police have become ‘much wiser about trafficking’ in the local area.
“About 18 months ago there was some intelligence around an address in Roffey,” she said. “Some anonymous letters came through and what happened was a warrant was executed and the property was found to be empty.
“But as a result of this information was gathered and we found out what StreetLight was and have been in contact with them about how we can assist each other.”
The CI explained that a brothel is only classed as such if more than one person is operating it. Only clear evidence linking to exploitation or other offences such as money laundering can result in any offenders being bought to justice.
“If they’re working on their own, out of their own home then there’s very little we can do,” she admitted. “Last year intelligence was gathered about people visiting an address in Horsham town centre. A warrant was executed and a search of the premises found just one woman. No arrests were made.”
She stressed: “The most important thing for me is helping the victim find a way out. Because if we don’t approach this in a sensitive way, and the women fall back into prostitution, we’ve lost, if we treat them as a criminal, we’ve lost.
“Support to the victim and bringing offenders to justice is our aim.
“The intelligence is so hard to gather because it’s not something that’s the norm. But we will get a magistrate out of bed to sign a warrant to execute it tout de suite if we have the intelligence.
“This isn’t a big problem for Horsham, but it would be remiss of us to say it doesn’t happen.”