Author: Peter Cassidy
Dancers working in a Glasgow strip club were left “terrified” when it was raided by Immigration Enforcement Officers.
Seventh Heaven lap-dancing club in Elmbank Gardens in Charing Cross was raided at 11pm on Thursday night but no offences were detected within the premises.
Workers have joined with United Voices of the World union and sex worker charity Scotpep to condemn the raid that they say intimidated dancers who were misinformed about their legal rights.
The raid also resulted in a significant loss of earnings for dancers, they said.
Gia, a dancer who was present during the raid, claimed the workers were treated like “naughty school children” by officers.
She said: “It was chaos, the girls were terrified.
“As soon as police entered the floor was cleared, dancers were kicked off of stage and out of dance booths, treated like naughty children rather than workers in their own workplace.
“No information regarding what was happening was given. We were required to stay put, and then individually interviewed by the police.
“We were not allowed to work while the police were there, which spanned the majority of the night.”
Lydia, an organiser with United Voices of the World, said: “We were horrified to hear of this raid as it happened from a concerned union member, and were able to provide advice and support as it happened.
“It is perfectly legal to work as a dancer in a strip club like Seventh Heaven, but it is the stigmatisation of sex work that has caused an invasive and ultimately useless raid, a raid that resulted in no arrests and significant loss of earnings for the workers.”
It has also been claimed that officers have previously threatened Romanian woman with deportation despite them having a right to live and work in the UK.
Nadine Stott, chair of SCOTPEP, said: “We have previously had assurances from Police Scotland that they were not conducting these types of raids on sex industry businesses as they could not guarantee it would not become an immigration raid.
“Those reassurances are now clearly out the window. Many migrants work in strip clubs and other areas of the sex industry in Scotland and these raids are frightening for them.”
A spokeswoman for Police Scotland said: “Police assisted by Home Office Immigration Enforcement Officers made a Licensed Premises and Welfare visit to a nightclub in Elmbank Gardens.
“All was in order at the premises with no offences detected.”