Police to set up vice squad after Olympics to rid East End of prostitutes

Police are aiming to set up a permanent vice squad after the Olympics to rid London’s East End of street prostitution.

That was the pledge by the Met’s new Tower Hamlets borough commander Dave Stringer at a packed public meeting in Whitechapel last night.

It follows a six-month drive against street prostitutes and kerb-crawlers who have plagued the area around Vallance Road and the Flower & Dean estate off Brick Lane which has resulted in 65 prostitutes arrested this year alone.

A sweep against kerb crawlers earlier this month led to 12 men arrested.

“I want to set up a vice squad—but we have the Olympics commitment first,” he told the packed meeting at the Osmani community centre.

“I want a permanent Vice Squad in place from October, but anything can happen in the summer, with our commitments to the Olympics.

“But the commitments by the Met finishes September 16, so I’m looking to get something in place at the start of October.”

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Police are already slamming prostitutes and kerb-crawlers with bail conditions to keep them out of neighbourhoods around Commercial Street and Vallance Road which have become ‘red light’ areas.

Extra patrols between now and end of the Olympics are also being promised.

But a permanent Vice squad is Chief Supt Stringer’s main priority.

He told the Advertiser after the meeting: “I want a Vice squad by the end of this year. I’m the man to make the decision—I have the resources, but cannot commit to it yet because of the Olympics.”

Yet he realises it may never be a permanent solution.

“We’ll never eradicate prostitution—it’s always with us,” he added.

“But street prostitution is different. That brings violence and drugs. We can deal with that with a permanent squad of officers who’ll know who the prostitutes are and can identify these women and know if they’re subject to bail conditions or Anti-Social orders.”

It is one of several measures residents called for last night, including better street lighting from Tower Hamlets council and removing a public telephone box in the area that is being used by prostitutes and drug dealers.