- Tower Hamlets
Police in Tower Hamlets have pledged to set up a ‘vice squad’ to tackle ongoing street prostitution in the area
New Metropolitan Police Borough Commander David Stringer, promised local residents attending a public meeting in Whitechapel, that he would put the plan into action in October, following the Olympics.
Local residents and families spoke with local police and Tower Hamlets mayoral advisor Axel Landin about an increase safety measures in the area, such as improved street lighting and more frequent night-time patrols.
But the police asked for the help of residents. Chief Inspector Nigel Nottage told the meeting: “Prostitution is not just a policing issue. We can deal with enforcement, but can’t make it go away. We need help from the community.”
ELL reported last month about a growing number of arrests of prostitutes in Tower Hamlets in the run-up to the Olympics. More sex workers have been arrested in the area so far this year than in the whole of 2011. Many of those arrested are subject to Anti-Social Behaviour Orders preventing them from returning to the area.
Tower Hamlets Residents Solidarity Campaign group have pointed out that the main focus of the arrests has been on sex workers, although 12 kerb crawlers were recently arrested by police in the area.
Tessa Horvath, a local resident and campaigner, told ELL: “I think it’s really disappointing that Dave Stringer is talking about further measures targeted at the women involved in prostitution. More concerted efforts to criminalise and displace women will not stop them from soliciting on the streets. Women in prostitution have suffered violence and abuse and need an intensive support framework to help them to exit prostitution.”
An action group set up by local community organisation Shoreditch Citizens will meet with local police and Tower Hamlets Mayor Lutfur Rahman after the Olympics to discuss future plans.