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Authorities bust bylaw-breaking brothel

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Authorities bust bylaw-breaking brothel


July 20, 2005

Authorities joined forces this afternoon to bust a bylaw-breaking brothel in suburban Glenfield.

Police, health, immigration, IRD and the local council were all part of the raid on the four-bedroom house that had been the focus of repeated complaints from neighbours.

It is believed to be the first time since the Prostitution Reform Act 2003 came into force that a local authority had enforced its brothel bylaw.

North Shore City Council's environmental protection team leader, Warwick Robertson, executed the search warrant and, with help from the local constabulary, closed down the unlicensed brothel.

Mr Robertson said today's bust was the culmination of 18 months' work by various authorities who suspect a range of illegalities.

"We've been receiving complaints from neighbours since January 2004 about the heavy traffic outside and the activities inside," says the former police officer.

"In addition, health authorities have a number of concerns about hygiene while the immigration people want to talk to the Asian women working at the address. The taxman would also like to know where the proceeds of the enterprise are going."

The council has undertaken a painstaking approach to building its case for prosecution, including hiring private detectives to gather evidence.

Mr Robertson says the city's residents have made it clear they did not want to see brothels operating in residential areas, near schools or community facilities.

Controls to manage the potential impact of brothels were introduced in May and include provisions to regulate the location of brothels and the size and content of signs advertising brothels.

Breaches of the bylaw can result in a fine of up to $20,000.

The bylaw was introduced in response to the Government's Prostitution Reform Act, decriminalising prostitution, and enabling local councils to control the location and signage of brothels.

The bylaw was developed following consultation with affected parties and with the public in general. A combination of research and public comment have raised concerns about the possible impact of brothels on the North Shore City community. These highlight the exposure of children and young people to the commercial sex industry, economic impacts, signs advertising commercial sex services, and the clustering of brothels, as some of the key concerns.

In response to concerns raised, the bylaw aims to control where brothels are located so that they are not too close to residential areas and places that children and young people regularly visit.

There are limits on signage size and content, and on the number of brothels allowed in an area, to avoid clusters or the possible development of a red light district.

Under the new bylaw, brothels cannot be established or operated within 250 metres of any residential zones, and must be located more than 125 metres away from existing brothels, educational facilities, places of worship, community facilities and major public transport interchanges.

The bylaw also states that no person can operate a brothel unless the brothel is licensed by the council.

ENDS

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