Protest calls for stop on targeting East End prostitutes ahead of Olympics

Campaigners fighting to stop police targeting street prostitutes in London’s East End in the run-up to next month’s Olympics are holding a public meeting tonight (Weds).

A petition with 200 signatures calling on police and local authority to switch tactics is being presented at the meeting held by the Tower Hamlets Residents Solidarity campaign at St Margaret’s House community centre in Bethnal Green.

They are protesting at a police crackdown against women in prostitution after pressure from Tower Hamlets councillors to ‘clean up’ the streets before the 2012 Games when tens-of-thousands of visitors arrive from abroad.

The campaigners want action, instead, against pimps and organised gangs they say control prostitution and trafficking.

Councillors pushed for a crackdown on prostitutes in January after families in Bethnal Green complained of loitering outside their homes.

Police responded with a series of banning orders and later targeted women loitering on a housing estate in Spitalfields as well.

Tonight’s meeting exactly a month before the Olympic opening ceremony is at 6.30pm at St Margaret’s House at 21 Old Ford Road, where the petition is being handed to councillors. Speakers include Cllr Rania Khan, Marta Dapenda Calvo of Toynbee Hall’s Safe Exit project and prostitution survivor Lisa Innes.

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The online petition is at: