KINGSTON Council wants to get out of the brothel busting business amid an apparent rise in massage parlours illegally offering extra services.
Council paid investigators in the past few months have caught staff at five massage parlours across Mentone and Chelsea offering services, colloquially known as “happy endings”, in addition to massages.
Unlicensed services offered at the establishments contravene the Sex Work Act and Kingston Planning Scheme.
Kingston mayor Cr David Eden wrote to Victorian Police Minister Lisa Neville in August to flag “an increasing number of illegal brothels establishing in our municipality”.
“Over recent months council has investigated a number of businesses purporting to offer lawful massage services only to discover that businesses are operating as illegal brothels in locations that are proximate to homes, shops, schools and churches,” Cr Eden said in the letter.
The mayor has urged the Minister to have Victoria Police lead investigations into suspected illegal brothels since it costs ratepayers about $3000 for each investigation and there is “potential that the parties involved in conducting these illegal activities may also be involved in other and, potentially, even more serious criminal activity that may be known to commonwealth or state police”.
Kingston Council will ask councils from across the state meeting at the annual Municipal Association of Victoria, held on 18 October, to back its motion to have the state government take on the investigation of illegal brothels.
Council planning and development general manager Jonathan Guttmann said courts had so far declared four of the five massage parlours recently investigated were illegal brothels.
“Council is currently investigating another five suspected illegal brothels in the municipality,” he said.
Inspections are carried out by independent investigators hired by council at ratepayers’ expense.