Ilford South MP Mike Gapes praises the police operation tackling prostitution on Ilford Lane
- Credit: Danielle Jalowiecka
Ilford South’s longstanding MP Mike Gapes has praised the latest police operation to tackle prostitution along Ilford Lane.
Mr Gapes joined Barking MP Dame Margaret Hodge, police, councillors and community leaders for a street meeting on the issue outside the Al Madina mosque on Friday afternoon.
This was the third public meeting, since the new operation started in June.
Mr Gapes told the Recorder: “It has been a great success so far. The local residents are pleased with the progress.
“The police listened to the local community, and Redbridge Council has put in more street lighting.
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“The number of incidents have drastically reduced over the last few months.”
The Labour MP explained how there was a spike in prostitution related crime between April and June, but the special resources the police have put in has coped with the problem well.
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Sgt Matt Taylor, of the Loxford Safer Neighbourhoods Team, who is leading the operation, said 35 arrests have been made since then.
“Clearly we are disrupting those behind it,” he said.
“The girls that have been down there we aren’t seeing them as much.”
Officers adapted their tactics to stamp out crime, rather than playing whack-a-mole with prostitution pushed out of one area only to resurface elsewhere, Sgt Taylor explained.
“We’re also using Criminal Protection Notices to stop curbcrawlers from returning,” he added.
Romanian detectives joined the officers from the East Area Command Unit as part of the operation, and on Friday night when the Recorder went out with police only two girls were seen along Ilford Lane.
The Met are also offering the girls the chance to seek help through outreach charity Refuge.
But even with the “joined-up” policing efforts mentioned at the last meeting on July 24, some locals raised concerns that antisocial behaviour would return when officers moved on.
“You do this, and then it comes back again,” said one, “and that’s been going on for some years.”
A phone number, rather than the current email address, would be a better way of letting residents tip off police about sex workers operating nearby, said another.