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'Massive demand' hampering police efforts to clear Ilford's prostitution problem

PUBLISHED: 12:55 02 May 2013 | UPDATED: 12:55 02 May 2013

"Massive demand" is the main obstacle to clearing prostitutes from the streets of Ilford, according to one police officer.

Sgt Lee Wilkinson, who leads the Loxford Safer Neighbourhood Team, routinely leads his officers on night time operations to combat the problem.

Operation Clear Light started about six months ago and targets antisocial behaviour, including street drinking, kerb crawlers and prostitution.

Mr Wilkinson said: “There are girls that are forced into it from a young age. You cannot get rid of prostitution and I don’t think it’s getting any worse. Our trouble is how can you make something go away that there’s a massive demand for?”

Last week the team carried out the operation on Wednesday and Thursday and made their 51st arrest.

Redbridge Council said co-ordinated operations and other measures are sending out a “strong message that we will not tolerate it [prostitution] and the upset it is causing to local residents”.

The spokesman added Loxford SNT and the Redbridge Community Police Team carry out regular patrols in the area.

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