Brothel numbers in Croydon have fallen by 60 per cent since 2004, according to a local anti-trafficking organisation.
Peter Cox, chair of Croydon Community Against Trafficking said that the statistics come from research carried out this year.
“We pretended to be punters and ascertained how many dubious establishments were operating in the borough,” he said. “We found about 120 in our original 2004 investigation. This year, that number is now closer to 50 or 55.”
The group attributes the decrease to the success of a campaign they ran to remove brothel advertisements from Croydon newspapers in December last year.
CCAT has been carrying out research using their own “intelligence gathering team” since 2003, when a report by the Poppy Project was published showing the number of brothels in boroughs across London.
Cox said: “We were quite surprised that Croydon was so high, so we thought we would look into it. We followed up [the Poppy Project report] by investigating newspaper ads. We have been doing research on an ongoing basis since.”
They work with the police and social services to help break up brothel businesses when they find them.
“Because we have this intelligence-gathering team, we find out where they are, what’s on offer, we find out who owns these places and we share this information with police and social services.
“These measures are less expensive and more successful than carrying out a raid and you find that the owners might be committing other crimes as well.”
In a statement, head of the missing person’s unit Detective Inspector Clare Mullenger explained that the department is able to use information passed on by CCAT.
She said: “a number of missing persons have links, they may be persons that have been trafficked, or are in danger of being trafficked.”