Portsmouth, VA

Tactics Used

Auto Seizure
Buyer Arrests
Community Service
Employment Loss
Identity Disclosure
IT Based Tactics
John School
License Suspension
Neighborhood Action
Public Education
Reverse Stings
SOAP Orders
Web Stings

Portsmouth is a city of about 95,000 residents, located in the Hampton Roads area of Virginia, near Norfolk, Chesapeake, Virginia Beach and Newport News. It is an independent city and not part of any county.  Prostitution activity has been reported in the area for decades. For example, in July, 2021, five people were in custody after allegedly being involved in prostitution. The Portsmouth Police Department said its special investigation division has been working on an operation geared towards stopping prostitution in the areas of Prentis Park and Cradock. Four women were arrested and charged with Prostitution, and a man was arrested for contributing to illegal commercial sex and was charged with “Keeping or Frequenting a Bawdy Residence” (i.e., a brothel). In addition to such routine prostitution cases, prostitution-related homicide has also been documented locally.  In their efforts to reduce the size and scope of the city’s commercial sex market, the Portsmouth Police Department has conducted periodic reverse stings targeting sex buyers since at least 2000. Operations are typically conducted at street level, using one or more female undercover officers as decoys. Once arrested, sex buyers often have their names and other identifying information publicized by local media outlets.

Key Partners

  • Portsmouth Police Department

Key Sources

Street-Level Reverse Stings, Identity Disclosure:

Background on Prostitution in the Area:

  • “Police Charge 30 in Prostitution Sting Operation,” Norfolk Virginian-Pilot, September 18 2004.
  • “Sweeps Bring Arrests of 6 on Prostitution Charges,” ABC/WVEC-TV 13, February 11 2009.
  • “4 Charged in Prostitution Sting in Portsmouth,” ABC/WVEC-TV 13, August 15 2009.
  • “6 Charged in Portsmouth Prostitution Operation,” ABC/WVEC-TV 13, September 18 2009.
  • “6 Arrested during Prostitution Crackdown in Portsmouth,” ABC/WVEC-TV 13, May 10 2010.
  • “Portsmouth Police Conduct Operation Targeting Prostitutes,” ABC/WVEC-TV 13, December 6 2011.
  • “4 Charged in Portsmouth Prostitution Operation,” ABC/WVEC-TV 13, February 29 2012.
  • “Portsmouth Police Make Arrests in Prostitution Operation,” ABC/WVEC-TV 13, September 10 2012.
  • “Four Arrested in Portsmouth Prostitution Sting,” ABC/WVEC-TV 13, October 4 2013.
  • https://www.13newsnow.com/article/news/crime/four-women-man-arrested-prostitution-portsmouth (2021)

Documented Violence Against Individuals Engaged in Prostitution in the Area:

State Virginia
Type City
Population 95097
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