Sex workers, cops team up to rid city of dodgy escorts
DODGY visa-overstaying prostitutes charging cut-rate prices have pushed frustrated local sex workers to pair up with police in a bid to kick illegal operators out of Townsville.
An ongoing investigation by Townsville's Major and Organised Crime Squad has nabbed a number of law-breaking sex workers, including one who was found to have overstayed her visa by 10 years.
It is understood sex workers are falling foul of Queensland's prostitution laws by listing specific services, like "bareback blowjobs", in their online ads.
Detective Sergeant Adam Golding said police had found rule-breaking sex workers using receptionists based out of Melbourne, Sydney or Perth to take bookings.
In Queensland, it is an offence for sex workers to describe the services offered in their ads that state or imply that unsafe sex will be provided.
The use of words "natural", "bareback", "basic", "skin to skin" and the like are prohibited.
According to the Prostitution Licensing Authority, sole-operator sex workers must not have a receptionist as they must "operate independently of other persons".
"A lot of them are here on student visas or have overstayed their visas … they are not overstaying by one or two months, but by a year to 10 years," Sgt Golding said.
He said police were tipped off to the illegal activity earlier this year by frustrated law-abiding sex workers.
Sgt Golding said detectives were now routinely checking numerous online sites to weed out illegal operators in town.
"When we are checking ads we are not taking action on one little indiscretion, we are looking at advertisements with multiple indiscretions," he said.
"It comes down to making a buck in the end, it's just like any business really … we just want everyone to be able to work on a level playing field."
Townsville sex worker Rose, who has been in the industry for 13 years, said the number of unlawful sex workers operating in Townsville had escalated in recent times.
Rose had heard of the crackdown and said she welcomed the police presence.
"We worked hard for years to get our prices to what they are, and these little skanks are coming in and undercutting the prices so greatly it's not funny," she said.
"There's false advertising, they send out a photo of a really hot-looking little chick and when they get there it's some frumpy number. The girls have had a gutful of it.
"I believe a lot of them are doing sexual practice without condoms … which can create a lot of health problems for other women, especially if it's a married man and he goes back home to his wife you know."
Another sex worker told the Bulletin business had begun to suffer.
"It is annoying, because in Townsville there were only a few of us who were legitimate and working for ourselves and were who we said we were," she said.