Call for police to stop targeting East End prostitutes in run up to Olympics

Campaigners fighting to stop police targeting prostitutes in London’s East End in the run-up to the Olympics have now presented their petition to the senior officer behind the drive against the women involved.

The Tower Hamlets Residents Solidarity Campaign is calling on police and local authority to switch tactics, following a packed public meeting in Bethnal Green.

They want action instead against kerb-crawlers, pimps and the gangs they say control prostitution.

“We’re asking police to stop criminalising women,” said campaign founder Tessa Horvath. “Their actions don’t solve the problem, but just move it on and make it harder for the women to exit.”

Police responding to calls to clean up notorious ‘red light’ areas in Bethnal Green and Spitalfields admit they haven’t always got it right.

Chief Insp Nigel Nottage, who began the ‘clean up’ drive, told the Advertiser: “My objective is to stop prostitution on the streets.

“Where we lost the balance was in making sure local people have a safe environment—we’ll balance it by getting the women into treatment where possible.”

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Mothers on Spitalfields’ Flower & Dean estate, however, brought police in to get rid of prostitution along Wentworth Street. They had two meetings with the Met Police borough commander and the Mayor last week.

The estate’s Lily Islam revealed: “We’re happy with vice patrols. But the problem returned when the patrols stopped.

“We suggest number-plate recognition to identify kerb-crawlers who pose a risk to residents and ordinary women.”

Councillors fear a rise of trafficking into the East End when tens-of-thousands of Olympic spectators stream in from abroad later this month.

Cllr Rania Khan said: “My concerns are women being trafficked. We must focus on criminalising the men who hang around street corners propositioning women who are not prostitutes—that’s not right.”

She wants better street lighting as one measure to stop kerb-crawling and help residents “take ownership” of their neighbourhoods.