Hookers being 'cleaned off streets' to boost London's image before Olympics
Sex workers are being 'cleaned off the streets' in a bid to make London more presentable for the Olympics due to start in August.
Police have arrested 44 prostitutes in Tower Hamlets since January - a similar number were arrested in the whole of 2011, according to figures.
According to Toynbee Hall, an anti-poverty charity based in Tower Hamlets, the number of sex worker arrests has also surged in Newham, home to the Olympic stadium.
Figures show that 14 arrests for prostitution were made in the borough in 2010 - 2011. Last year that figure rose to 37 arrests.
Newham Police have closed 80 brothels in the last 18 months, according to a paper written by Andrew Boff, a member of the London Assembly spokesman for the Conservative group on the Olympics.
Only 29 were closed in London’s 32 other boroughs in the same time period.
Prostitutes are being told to stay away from parts of Newham under ‘mini Asbo’ bail conditions. They are also facing curfews from 10pm to 6am, according to Toynbee Hall.
One sex worker told the charity she was not allowed onto the street where she lived after 8pm.
Sex work is legal but brothel activity is illegal in the UK.
“This increased activity has happened disproportionately in the Olympic boroughs,” the Daily Mail quoted Boff as telling The Times.
The Met Police launched the human exploitation and organised crime command to tackle vice-related crime in the five Olympic boroughs of Newham, Tower Hamlets, Greenwich, Hackney and Waltham Forest, in 2010.
The team’s mission is to make London a ‘hostile environment for traffickers’.
However, while police claim to be responding to increased sex trafficking fears ahead of the Games, Boff said he found no evidence to support the notion.
He also highlighted that brothel raids had taken place in areas where there had been no complaints from residents.
“My worry is they are clamping down on prostitution without these complaints,” he said, adding a ‘more tolerant’ approach to brothels in Merseyside had cut street prostitution in half.
A spokesman for Tower Hamlets council told The Times: “The work we are doing with the police to tackle prostitution is not related to the Olympics. Our residents have raised it as a concern.”
Elsewhere in the capital 11,000 volunteers have taken part in 1,000 clean-up events, including picking up litter, removing graffiti and sprucing up wasteland.
The nine-mile Regents Canal is also being cleaned-up ahead of the Olympics.