Five women working in a suspected city centre brothel have been safeguarded by a multi-agency operation led by Greater Manchester Police.
Officers representing Operation Phoenix, GMP’s Modern Slavery Unit and agents from Manchester City Council and Home Office Immigration Enforcement executed warrants at two addresses at Little Lever Street, Manchester, and Beech Mount, Harpurhey, yesterday.
Following the execution of these warrants, five women, aged 19, 23, 27, 29 and 30, have been safeguarded and the brothel has now been made the subject of a Closure Order.
Three people including a 65-year-old man from Harpurhey, a 71-year-old woman from Liverpool and a 46-year-old woman from Doncaster have been arrested on suspicion of keeping or managing a brothel for prostitution.
They remain in police custody for questioning.
Four Romanian women found to be working at the premises will also be interviewed by Home Office Immigration Enforcement.
Following searches conducted at the premises, a number of items were seized, including cash, mobile phones and a computer.
The operation was initiated as a result of intelligence suggesting that a 17-year-old girl had been trafficked to an address in Manchester City Centre and coerced into having sex with several men for money.
Detective Sergeant Mark Montrose said: “As soon as it was suggested that a teenage girl was being groomed and forced into sexual exploitation, partner agencies working under the banner of Project Phoenix sprang into action to ensure potential victims were safeguarded.
“As a result of the investigation by officers spread across multiple GMP Divisions and from Programme Challenger’s Modern Slavery Unit, partner agencies acted swiftly to try and protect these women and ensure that those responsible were brought into custody.
“This successful operation is a result of that hard work by both GMP officers and our partner agencies, and is another sterling example of the work we are all doing to protect vulnerable victims from sexual exploitation, trafficking and forced labour.”
Councillor Nigel Murphy, Manchester City Council’s executive member for neighbourhoods, said: “These kind of crimes are absolutely abhorrent and have no place in our city, and we are determined to make sure that those who profit from such vile activities cannot hide in our neighbourhoods.
“This operation shows that we are working closely with the police and other organisations to crack down on those who exploit the most vulnerable members of society, and I would like to repeat our message that people across all of Manchester’s communities should have the confidence to speak out and report anyone they believe to be involved in organised crime.”