An anti-trafficking organisation that campaigns against sex slavery has been chosen as this year’s Croydon Champions charity.

Croydon Community Against Trafficking (CCAT) has been waging war on the borough’s sex trade for the past three-and a-half years.

The organisation has focused on exposing brothels, which exploit women trafficked into the borough to be used as sex slaves.

CCAT, made up of residents, businesses and other concerned individuals, was set up after it was revealed Croydon has one of the largest sex industries in the country.

The borough was also identified as one of the towns where trafficked women were being sent in significant numbers, according to a report published by the London-based Poppy Project.

CCAT has been monitoring the borough’s brothels. Its careful research and campaigning has led to fewer brothels in the area, down from about 120 to 60.

Male members from the group regularly call escort agencies and massage parlours to determine what kind of “services” they offer and identify places that might be exploiting trafficked women.

The evidence is then passed on to police, who have used it to raid a number of suspect establishments over the years.

It has also campaigned for local newspapers to stop running advertisements for massage parlours, which may be using trafficked women. The organisation was instrumental in getting police to launch a campaign to stop papers from running adverts for massage parlours.

Newsquest, which publishes the Croydon Guardian, took the decision to axe adult advertisements in July 2008 in all of its 305 titles across the country.

The chairman of CCAT said he was delighted the charity had been chosen.

He said: “This is wonderful news. CCAT will continue to work with the police and the council to make sure they are investigating illegal establishments operating in the borough.

“Sex trafficking is still a huge problem in our borough, with so many young people out of work it is becoming an increasing concern. And we have a number of extremely vulnerable people who visit Lunar House to sort out their citizenship.”

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