Call for end of arresting East End prostitutes in run-up to 2012 Olympics

12:00 10 May 2012

Women are planning a public forum to push the police into changing the tactics of arresting street prostitutes in London’s East End in the run-up to the summer Olympics.

A steering group of the newly-formed Tower Hamlets Residents’ Solidarity Campaign meeting at Whitechapel’s Toynbee Hall last night (Weds) agreed to organise a forum to demand an end to prostitutes being targeted. No date has been set for the forum.

Women are being arrested for soliciting while “the real problem is the pimps” controlling street prostitution and the kerb-crawling it encourages, the campaigners insist.

“Arresting these women is a short-term solution that might solve a problem for the moment,” campaign co-ordinator Shannon Harvey told the Advertiser. “But it will move on somewhere else. The real problem is the pimps controlling them.

“We have to have a broader goal with a strategy to help these women into other activity, not harass them.”

The police brought in a strategy of arrests under pressure from Tower Hamlets councillors who were calling for action before thousands of visitors arrive in east London for the summer Games.

The call followed a deputation in January from families in Vallance Road, Bethnal Green, demanding action to clean up their neighbourhood, which resulted in arrests of prostitutes and kerb-crawlers who are now given automatic bail conditions banning them from the area at certain times.

A similar scheme has since been brought in on the Flower & Dean estate in Spitalfields after complaints from families of anti-social behaviour.

But the Solidarity campaign wants resources instead for schemes such as Toynbee Hall’s ‘Safe Exit’ programme to get prostitutes off the street permanently and back into mainstream society.

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