One of Tayside’s top police officers has warned organised crime gangs are using moving vulnerable women around Scotland “like commodities” to prostitute them.
Police Scotland Superintendent Shaun McKillop said an increasing amount of prostitution is now taking place behind closed doors, with social media and mobile phones being used to advertise the availability of prostitutes.
The women are sold for sex in cities for a day or two at a time before being moved to another location.
He was speaking in a documentary made by the Dundee Women Rape and Sexual Abuse Centre (WRASC) called Hidden, which aims to change attitudes regarding prostitution, particularly those of men and people who consider it a “lifestyle choice.”
The harrowing video includes testimony from women who have worked as a prostitute in Dundee.
One women became involved in the trade after her partner got into debt with Russian gangsters.
The woman said: “Most of the men I see are married. I don’t understand how these men can be with someone from the way they behave during sex
“They thought that the more money they gave me they could just do anything they wanted to me.”
Another sex worker said men who use prostitutes are often violent.
She said: “What they’re paying for, that’s not the way I am if I was with someone I wanted to be with.”
Mr McKillop said: “Prostitution in itself has changed in as much as what we currently have is a move away from what we would call traditional on street prostitution toward more off street prostitution, where those involved in prostitution are using social media, they’re using texts ad phones to advertise their services.
“They’re taking clients away from meeting them on streets to meeting them in flats and other locations so it’s not as visible.
“Because the problem moves away from on street it makes it more difficult to identify those that need services.”
He added: “When it moves off street there’s a greater element of organised crime because the organised crime gangs can then advertise women for sale and move women as commodity from place to place across Scotland.
“So what you’re then seeing is females being exploited and advertised in Dundee for two days, Aberdeen for two days and Inverness for a day, they basically work in a route across Scotland.”
WRASAC manager Sinead Daly said the video is about raising awareness of prostitution in Dundee.
Her charity has worked with 170 women involved in the sex industry in the city over the past five years.
She said: “We are trying to show the human side of prostitution, this an extremely vulnerable group of women.
“There has been of change of attitude recently where think this is acceptable. We are trying to change that and say ‘this is unacceptable’
“It’s also about challenging the idea that this is a lifestyle choice. Certainly in Dundee that has not been the case of the women we have worked with.”