Former Queensland Police Commissioner Bob Atkinson cut his teeth as a detective on the Sunshine Coast in the 1980s.
Former Queensland Police Commissioner Bob Atkinson cut his teeth as a detective on the Sunshine Coast in the 1980s. DAVE HUNT

Ex-Noosa detective, QPS Commissioner, recalls sex ring raids

THERE was more than just illegal gambling on the minds of law enforcement officers in the region in the 1980s.

A series of escort agencies operating around the Coast were fronts for prostitution rings.

Former Queensland Police Commissioner and ex-Noosa detective Bob Atkinson was among the team of police in Nambour and Maroochydore who set about breaking up the region's illicit sex trade.

In November, 1982, raids were carried out on Kittys Escort Agency in Maroochydore, which led to three people being arrested and charged.

From December 1982-January 1983 ads were run in local papers for Tiffanys Escort Agency, connected to a unit in Nannygai St, Noosaville.

During a search of that property in January, 1983, a woman was arrested, but there was insufficient evidence to charge her with prostitution and she left the area soon after.

Shortly after, on February 15, 1983, Mr Atkinson and colleagues were at it again, raiding Charmaines Escort Agency in Sixth Ave, Maroochydore.

Three people were charged with prostitution-related and firearm offences as a result of that raid, as recalled in Mr Atkinson's statement to the Fitzgerald Commission of Inquiry in December, 1987.

At that time officers had also kept La Petite Mam'selle Escort Agency under surveillance, and linked it to a shop at Sunshine Bazaar, David Low Way, Noosa Junction.

An operation in February, 1983, used an undercover police officer at a local hotel, to draw out one of the suspected prostitutes.

There was insufficient evidence to lay charges for prostitution-related offences, but continued surveillance led to the businesses closing shortly after.

Those businesses were controlled by a woman who'd also been connected with Kittys Escort Agency in Maroochydore.

After more charges were laid against a man in February, 1983, following raids in Maroochydore of Candys Escort Agency, a warrant was issued for a unit in Banyandah Towers at Duporth Ave, Maroochydore.

The female occupant had also been operating the premises trading as Candys.

No charges were laid following that search.

Mr Atkinson said the problem for police with the illegal operations was the public perception of police it helped perpetuate.

"Both illegal gambling and illegal prostitution were problematic... in the sense of the public concern about possible police involvement in protecting those industries,” he said.

In April, 1983, an escort agency known as Fifi's, was the subject of a police operation.

A man was arrested for living off earnings of prostitution and four drug charges, and he was also wanted on five warrants.

In April, 1984, another operation was carried out looking into Candys Escort Agent.

The woman running the businesses was arrested, charged and convicted on both prostitution-related charges.

Further raids were carried out in Sixth Ave, Maroochydore, in 1985, after three escort agencies were linked to the unit, and a man and woman were charged.

Mr Atkinson also warned two others, a man and woman from Sydney, in July, 1987, that if they didn't close down a premises in Eugarie St, Noosa Heads, being used for prostitution, they'd be prosecuted to the full extent of the law.

That premises was closed down soon after.



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