Warning to hotel operators over working girls
A detective has warned hotel operators to be cautious about how they interact with working girls at their venue after one Townsville manager was fined for facilitating prostitution.
The owner of North Ward-based Ridgemont Executive Motel Yang Zhi Chen earlier this month pleaded guilty to having an interest in a premises used for the purposes of prostitution, knowingly participate in the provision of prostitution and possess tainted property.
An Ayr Magistrates Court heard messages between Chen and the working girls revealed he was arranging rooms at the venue between July 27, 2017, and September 5, 2019.
Major and Organised Crime Squad Sergeant Adam Golding, who has been investigating prostitution in Townsville, said Chen came to the attention of authorities after the name of the hotel kept popping up.
He described it as a popular destination among working girls perhaps due to its price and location.
Earlier this month, Chen told the Townsville Bulletin he didn't think he was doing anything wrong, and he told detectives a similar story.
"He obviously hadn't read the legislation and I suppose it's a warning for hotel owners, they've got to be careful about how they involve themselves with these (working) girls because the legislation is very clear," Sgt Golding said.
"Every industry has guidelines on how it must operate, prostitution is no different.
"It's not illegal to be a prostitute, but there are guidelines and framework around it that everyone who's involved in the industry has to conform with, and that's where they fall down."
The court heard earlier this month Chen also asked the women to delete text message conversations to avoid detection by police.
Eleven people have been charged with prostitution offences in the first 11 months of this year, police data shows.
Sgt Golding has previously said detectives were now routinely checking numerous online sites to weed out illegal operators in town. In Queensland it is an offence for sex workers to describe the services offered in their ads that state or imply that unsafe sex will be provided.
He said a glance at the social media platforms where the prostitution was advertised showed a lot of the ads were not compliant with the requirements.