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Thursday, 15 February, 2001, 20:26 GMT
Police raid Soho brothels
A prostitute
Two juveniles under 16 were arrested in the raids
More than 50 brothels have been raided by police in London, in what is believed to be the biggest clampdown on prostitution in Britain in recent years.

About 110 officers raided addresses in Soho on Thursday afternoon and up to 28 young people, including two juveniles under the age of 16, were arrested.

The operation was prompted by concerns that under-age girls were being exploited and follows eight months of intelligence gathering by Scotland Yard.

'Undesirable elements'

Chief Inspector Chris Bradford said the operation had achieved great results.

He said: "The existence of these premises in Soho and the very nature of what goes on within them means they act as a magnet for undesirable elements and activities"

"As far as we know this is the biggest simultaneous crackdown on brothels and prostitution in this country in recent times."

Maids

Many of the prostitutes arrested are believed to be illegal immigrants mainly from Eastern Europe.

Mr Bradford said a lot more work had to be done in London to prevent immigrant women and girls from being exploited by ruthless pimps.

The premises raided were mainly one- and two- bedroom flats, a police spokesman said.

Police sources said that in the brothels it would be usual to have one prostitute and a maid to "keep the place tidy".

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