A BBC investigation for Panorama has looked into the world of online pimps using a website called ‘Vivastreet’ to advertise sex workers.

Selling sex is legal in the UK but pimping and sex trafficking is against the law and the Panorama investigation found that Vivastreet was “culpable” in sexual exploitation.

In the Panorama episode ‘Online Pimps Exposed’, which aired last week, members of the Lancashire Police force were attending a welfare visit in Burnley, where they were sent to investigate a suspected brothel.

Lead by Detective Sgt Stuart Peall, members of the police force visited the property back in October with journalist, Bronagh Munro, also attending.

Lancashire Telegraph:  Detective Sgt Stuart Peall (Photo: BBC) Detective Sgt Stuart Peall (Photo: BBC)

They inform the owner that they had some “concerns around prostitution” and proceeded to search the home.

There was just one woman in the house and she said the man in question was her boyfriend.

After inspecting a man’s phone, Detective Sgt Stuart Peall tells him: “This is about prostitution mate.

“You’ve just shown me your phone and it’s got messages around prostitution.

“You’re under arrest for controlling prostitution.”

Narrating the scene, Bronagh Munro says the messages suggest that “the man is a pimp”.

Mr Peall said: “He’s brought his phone down, he’s unlocked the phone and they are absolutely littered, on a daily basis, with sexual services being organised, prices being organised.”

One of the messages on the phone reads: “It’s £180 for an hour and you get kissing, massage and sex in different positions.”

On the episode, Det Sgt Peall and Ms Munro also reveal text messages from advertising site, Viva Street

Ms Munro adds: “The suspected pimp has been using a website to advertise women.

“The man is accused of trafficking and controlling prostitution for gain, but for Vivastreet he is a valued customer.”

Lancashire Telegraph: Text messages from Vivastreet investigated by Lancashire Police on the BBC show (Photo: BBC)Text messages from Vivastreet investigated by Lancashire Police on the BBC show (Photo: BBC)

Vivastreet is an online classified ads site. You can advertise most things for free and you can sell sex too – but ads cost around £50 per week.

Det Sgt Peall explained: “It is very common knowledge that if you need sexual services, Vivastreet is the place that you will find it.

“You can arrange what you want, what you want the girl to look like… it’s like a takeaway menu.

“There isn’t a job we haven’t done that’s not Vivastreet – every single job involves Vivastreet.”

Later in the show, Stuart Peall adds that the website is “culpable” in sexual exploitation.

He said: “Without that website, the mass of that exploitation stops. It’s all about advertisements, it’s all about the pimp selling them to the public.”

Speaking to Panorama, a spokesperson for Vivastreet said they are “committed” to eradicating any potential sexual exploitation.

The company said: “Providing a safe platform is our top priority… [we are] committed to eradicating any potential exploitation [it has] a range of stringent measures in place to detect criminality and this year, more than 29,000 ads have been rejected.”

A spokesperson for the Lancashire Constabulary said: “We attended an address on October 21 to carry out a welfare check and a man was arrested. He was subsequently charged with trafficking and controlling prostitution."