Police have arrested a woman on suspicion of running a brothel in Cowley.
Forced entry to the property was made by HMO Enforcement with police support on Friday evening.
The house on Rymers Lane in the Temple Cowley area was flagged up after a complaint was made to Environmental Health regarding neglect of the outside area. An Environmental Health Officer who inspected the property became suspicious of activities taking place and obtained a warrant for entry from the Magistrate’s Court.
A combined services team made up of Environmental Health, HMO Enforcement, police and an Independent Trauma Advisor made a forced entry using an angle grinder after the occupants refused to open the door.
Local councillor Ed Turner, Board Member for Public Health, commented: “Clearly I am worried about the likely exploitation involved in such cases, and am glad that the council and police reacted so vigorously. If there are suspicions about what is happening in a particular property it is important people contact the relevant authorities, rather than turning a blind eye.”
This incident follows several others in the Cowley area also relating to sexual offences.
Last month, police officers raided the Athena Guest House on Cowley Road and arrested a 45-year-old man and a 25-year-old woman on suspicion of intentionally arranging or facilitating entry into the UK of a person to engage in sexual exploitation. Four women were helped by specially trained officers that evening, and a further seven properties in Oxford were also searched. Another location on Cowley Road was investigated the next day, after members of the public contacted the police.
Regarding the Rymers Lane case, Turner also remarked: “Catching this sort of alleged illegal activity is a benefit of having proactive work in our community to raise standards in rented housing. Obviously this was an extreme case but I would encourage anyone with concerns about a property to contact the Council.”
In response to this, Sam Buttler, a first-year music student at St Peter’s who will be living in Cowley next year, commented: “I don’t think I would feel comfortable [raising concerns] because of the sort of person I am. I would need concrete evidence before going to the council/police, but I think it is different for each person.
“However, I would support a friend in going to the council/police if they felt that an issue needed to be raised with them.”
With investigations into a variety of offences ongoing, Oxford County Council and Thames Valley Police were unable to give any further comment.