Marylebone brothel closed by police

A brothel which housed 17 prostitutes and has been described as one of the largest in inner-London with takings of up to �3.5million a year, has been raided and shut down in a quiet street in Marylebone.

The brothel, on Harrowby Street, was this week served with a closure order after police stormed the three-floor premises and found it crammed full of women.

The interior was found to have been modified to provide the maximum number of bedrooms and showers within the space available with the lounge used as a waiting area for clients and prostitutes.

The brothel, which occupied the first, second and third floors of the building, attracted punters throughout the night and wreaked havoc on its neighbours.

The owner of the ground and basement section of the property, who runs his business from the premises, said he had numerous problems with the brothel above.

“On our terrace at the back we have found condoms, tampons, used tissues and on one occasion a pair of heavily soiled underpants,” he said. “The girls used to arrive from 10.30pm and the punters would come in all night. They would leave at about 7-8.30 in the morning.

“This is a little village enclave with small properties, many of them family owned. It’s incompatible to have a red light area mixing with that kind of environment.

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“It’s a great relief that it’s been shut but the worry is who is going to go in there next.”

Police from Bryanston and Dorset Square Safer Neighbourhoods Team raided the premises in the early morning of November 6 and confirmed they found 17 working girls, none of whom proved to be trafficked or under-age, as well as four clients.

One person was arrested for possession of cocaine while several thousand pounds in cash belonging to the people who ran the brothel was recovered, although they are yet to be found.

Sgt Chris Wilson, who led the team of 12 police officers on the raid, said: “It’s fair to say this was the Tesco of the brothel world rather than just a small corner shop. It’s the biggest any of the officers had seen in the area so it was very out of the ordinary.

“There is evidence we recovered in the premises that goes back to the operating company and we are actively pursuing some positive leads relating to the identity of the owners and managers at the premises.

“We estimate that if the premises had been left to run all year the management would earn between a quarter of a million pounds at the very lowest estimate, up to three and a half million. That has been taken out of the pocket of people who exploit women.”

It is believed clients were brought to the location by minicabs, whose drivers were given “kick backs” from the brothel management in order to promote their trade.

David Peace, chairman of the Harrowby and District Residents’ Association, said: “It was a bit of a surprise. We had no idea about it in the surrounding streets at all.

“If you go further away there’s more of that kind of thing but that is unusual for here. It’s a very quiet, very safe, secure area.”

The operation to close the brothel was the culmination of several nights’ work by police.

It is now illegal for anyone to enter the brothel premises for the next six months without police permission.