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Shoplifters and beggars have turned to sex work to "fund their lifestyles" during the pandemic, police have said. Officers in the North East warned they have also received increased reports of brothels operating in Newcastle. Northumbria Police said there had been a "shift" into the "exploitative world of sex work" in order to pay rent or buy drugs.
The force added "very vulnerable people are being targeted by predatory people". Supt Karl Wilson told the Safe Newcastle Board: "You pretty much can't shoplift or beg, but you still need to fund your lifestyle so what has happened in lockdown is that we have seen a real shift in offending into much more vulnerable and high-risk areas. In a report to public safety officials, police said there was now "less visible on-street work" but people working at home during lockdown had become aware of "unusual activity" in their neighbourhoods.
The city's West End in particular has seen an increase in the number of reports of brothels, with officers and support agencies visiting locations and providing support to women found working there, it added. Outreach staff are contacting vulnerable individuals including socially distanced home visits, the Local Democracy Reporting Service said. Send your story ideas to northeastandcumbria bbc. Virus forces offline sex workers to start again online. Northumbria Police. Image source, Getty Images.
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