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Brothel botherers – Council closes Cathall cathouse

A brothel in Leytonstone’s Cathall ward, and another further up the High Road, have been shut down in a joint operation mounted by Waltham Forest Council and local police.

The intelligence led operation saw various Council services work together to plan raids on two properties being used by sex workers, much to the relief of neighbours and local residents affected by the illicit business.

The operation was sparked by the discovery of hundreds of stickers advertising a ‘massage’ service. Officers from the Council’s Enforcement, Property Licensing and Anti-Social Behaviour Teams worked together to identify the properties and track down the landlords.

The success has been partly attributed to the introduction of the Council’s Neighbourhoods model last year. This has allowed greater levels of partnership working with contractors, to whom the Council has passed over certain levels of responsibility for dealing with low-level enviro-crime offences.

“By freeing up time for our Council officers they can concentrate on bigger issues such as the scourge of prostitution,” explained Councillor Clyde Loakes, Deputy Leader and Cabinet Member for Environment.

“We’ve completely reworked the way we manage our environmental services so that we can be much more locally focused on big issues like this and other problems such as fly-tipping that impact on the quality of life of residents.

“We recognised that addressing these sorts of issues required a lot of dedicated resource, so we have given our key professionals the time they need to really make an impact in eradicating these sorts of problems.”

As well as the Council’s Neighbourhoods model allowing more intelligence led operations, the change in arrangements has also allowed the Council to be leaner and more cost effective too.

“The reassuring thing for residents is that not only have we closed down these brothels, but we have put in motion provisions to ensure they don’t return,” said Cllr Loakes. “One of the landlords of the property we raided actually owns 111 other properties in the borough. He is now well aware of the problem of his flats being sub-let for this purpose.

“Our landlord licensing scheme means that we can now take away his licence and stop other landlords renting properties if they do not take the necessary steps to ensure they are not being used for criminal activity. It’s this joined up approach that allows us to come at these sorts of problems from all the various angles to make sure the problem is solved and not just moved on or temporarily disrupted.”

PHOTO: Neighbourhoods Officers remove the hundreds of stickers posted on street furniture in Leytonstone.

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