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Swedish cops warn of prostitute subletters

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Prostitution photo: Shutterstock.
12:16 CEST+02:00
City Swedes planning on renting out their flats over the summer should be wary of subletting to prostitutes, police say.

Last year a survey showed that 37 percent of Swedes spend time at a country summer house, and a March survey this year revealed that 43 percent of Swedes plan to travel abroad this summer. Many of them rent out their apartments during their travels.

But what happens while they're away?

Swedish police have issued warnings that it's increasingly common for prostitutes to rent apartments for work. 

Stockholm police Simon Häggström said that a few years ago most prostitution arrests were made in hotels. Today most hits are in normal residential apartments.

"We have a three-hour training course for hotel staff here in Stockholm about how to detect prostitution and what to do when they encounter it," Häggström told The Local on Tuesday.

"And the better the hotel personnel get in seeing prostitution, the more unwilling these networks are to stay in the hotels. And so that’s why they are moving into apartments."

Häggström added that the number of rented apartments where prostitution occurs is minimal, but still "tragic".  And largely unavoidable.

"It’s something we have to live with. It’s almost impossible to prevent it from happening."

RELATED ARTICLE: Swedes slam Amnesty's 'legalize prostitution' bid

When the police discover that prostitution has taken place in an apartment, they send a letter to the legal owners. But there’s not much more that can be done to avoid it in the first place.

"That’s the tricky bit, definitely," Häggström said. "How do you spot someone who is going to sell sex? That can be done in movies but it’s not so easy in real life."

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Häggström recommended that those letting out their flats have a friend or neighbour check in from time to time - even monitoring from outside will do. 

"These apartments are pretty easy to spot if you’re looking for them," Häggström remarked. "There is a constant stream of lonely men visiting day and night. So have a friend make sure no weird stuff is going on. That’s the best advice I can give." 

Prostitution is a taboo and touchy subject in Sweden, where the purchase, but not sale, of sex has been outlawed since 1999. Last year Prime Minister Fredrik Reinfeldt called for a tougher approach to sex buyers, while in February a report counselled that focus should be on helping sex-buying men to change their behaviour.

Solveig Rundquist
Follow Solveig on Twitter.

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