Picturesque holiday homes are being used by criminal gangs as pop-up brothels, the Bishop of Derby has said. Rt Rev Dr Alastair Redfern, a campaigner on human trafficking, has said that gangs hop between holiday rentals while advertising trafficked women for sex online.
Speaking to the Derby Telegraph, Redfern detailed a number of harrowing tales of human trafficking that he had come across in his time campaigning against the practice and his work in the House of Lords trying to toughen laws against perpetrators.
In the Peak District in northern England, the bishop claimed "there are lots of holiday homes used as pop-up brothels" where criminals bring in vulnerable women to pimp out. "They stay for four weeks and make a lot of money," he told the paper.
Redfern said that the scheme worked well because the criminals were regularly on the move, rarely staying long enough to arouse suspicion and continuing to force women, many from Eastern Europe, into a life of prostitution that they did not sign up for.
"This is a serious criminal business," Redfern said. "They are placed and forced to work in brothels because the work they were promised does not exist, they have very limited grasp of the language and have no money."
Redfern said that criminals push the women into drug addictions as another way to control them. In one particularly harrowing example, Redfern said he had met a victim in London who was being "raped ten times a day".
Another example of human trafficking noted by the bishop was 20 men living in a two-bedroom house, who had their passports taken from them and were forced to work while their identities were used to open bank accounts and sign up for benefits.
"This is a serious and organised criminal business," he told the paper, adding that people need to keep their eyes open for signs of trafficking in their areas.
Between July and September 2017, 1322 potential victims of trafficking were referred to the national mechanism according to the National Crime Agency. Labour exploitation was the most common referral for adults, followed closely by sexual exploitation.
Police have warned organised gangs were using other holiday hot spots to run pop up brothels in cottages and holiday homes. Devon and Cornwall Police found criminal gangs were using properties in Newquay.