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Prv't investigators no longer need to bang prostitutes for evidence against brothels

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Sex called off in hunt for illegal brothels

Melissa Fyfe

October 19, 2008

Page 1 of 2 | Single Page View

PRIVATE investigators will no longer need to have sex with prostitutes to gather evidence against illegal brothels.

Under new laws before Parliament, the State Government has made it easier for local councils to prove an illegal brothel is operating in their area.

Previously, in a bizarre and controversial situation, private investigators had to pay and receive sexual services from prostitutes so local councils could prove to a court the existence of an illegal brothel.

The changes mean local councils and their private investigators will only have to prove that sexual services were offered, not actually provided.

Instead of entering a suspected illegal brothel, council officers or hired investigators could sit across the road from a premises and note the number and gender of visitors.

"If there are heaps of blokes walking in and going quickly, then that is a point of evidence that can now be taken into account by the magistrate," said Dick Gross, president of the Municipal Association of Victoria. "We support these changes and we are hopeful that it will make life much more productive for enforcement officers at local government level."

The amendments, if approved, are likely to facilitate a crackdown on illegal brothels. A memorandum of understanding (MOU) about illegal brothels is being finalised between Consumer Affairs Victoria, local government and the police, the three organisations with responsibility for shutting down brothels operating without a licence and outside the planning system.

It is hoped the MOU will end years of buck-passing after police stopped policing illegal brothels and left it to local councils.

But William Albon, a spokesman for legal brothels and escort agencies, said the MOU must compel police to help local councils in their fight against illegal brothels, which he estimates number 400 in Victoria.

Mr Albon, from the Australian Adult Entertainment Association, welcomed the new amendments, but he said they would do little to help prosecute operators of illegal brothels who were "nomadic in nature" and simply moved their business to another premises after being caught by local councils...

continued: http://www.theage.com.au/national/sex-called-off-in-hunt-for-illegal-brothels-20081018-53nx.html?page=2

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