A BROTHEL was shut down and two prostitutes spoken to by police during a crackdown on human trafficking and modern slavery.

Officers undertook ‘welfare visits’ as part of a Week of Action to tackle organised crime in the sex trade and to support victims.

The Operation Challenger team – joined by Home Office immigration officers, a Hungarian translator and a Bolton Council environmental health officer – called at four addresses identified as potential brothels.

PC Danny Pugh said: “Our priority is to protect the vulnerable. In Bolton most of the victims are Hungarian, with some Romanian.

“They don’t necessarily see they’re being taken advantage of and it’s part of our job to make them aware.

“We can’t force them to come with us but in the most obvious trafficking cases they are visibly frightened.

“It’s about getting as much information as possible to build the bigger picture and letting the neighbours know we’re there and trying to take positive action.”

Two Romanian women, aged 19 and 21, were discovered in their dressing gowns at a mid-terraced Gilnow Grove house yesterday.

Bolton neighbourhood officer PCSO Andrei Cucos, who is Romanian, translated for immigration officials questioning the self-confessed sex workers.

The pair confirmed they possessed their identity documents, their own mobile phones and their own set of house keys and were free to come and go.

Immigration officers served both women with papers instructing them to get a legitimate job or register for benefits within 30 days or else risk arrest and possible deportation.

Police will meanwhile force the landlord to shut the house as a brothel.

Claire Rest, a council environmental health officer, said: “We work to identify any criminal activity but we’ll also be trying to work out if the owner has any other properties that could be of concern.

“I found damp in one of the properties and a chimney stack in disrepair.

“In the second we will be serving a legal notice on the landlord because there is a new regulation that every privately rented house must have a smoke alarm on every floor of the property, and this one did not.”