Police were forced to drop prosecutions of ‘sex sauna’ owners because of a decades-old document that encouraged them to turn a blind eye to the situation, it has been revealed.
Police Scotland launched a crackdown on the sauna businesses in Edinburgh in 2013 and arrested a number of individuals, before later dropping the cases against them.
According to the Sunday Mail newspaper, police were forced to abandon the cases because of a document drawn up in the 1980s which allowed prostitution to take place in certain locations.
An unnamed source said: “Many of Edinburgh’s saunas have effectively operated as brothels for decades.”
Responding to the Sunday Mail’s story, the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service said work was being done to ensure further prosecutions were not prevented.
According to the newspaper, politicians, police and a senior Crown Office official all signed the document in 1986.
It allowed prostitutes on the saunas’ premises as long as they promoted ‘safe sex’ and supplied condoms.
The secretive agreement was never overturned, meaning that when eleven men and women were arrested as part of the 2013 crackdown, they were subsequently allowed to go free.
The source said: “The emergence of this document has been a complete game changer.
“Its origins had become slightly lost and no one had been certain as to its existence.
“One of the sauna owners who was arrested asked his lawyers to look into it and they eventually found someone involved in the deal.”
“The police, local authority and health board were worried about the spread of Aids and thought this was a good way of countering it”, the source added.
In 2012, eleven sex saunas were granted licences despite objections in Edinburgh.
At the time Rhoda Grant MSP said the Government was aware the saunas had been used to traffic women.
She noted: “It is not acceptable to have vulnerable women open to exploitation in this way.”