Redbridge Police Chief: Prostitutes caught in the act will face arrest

Chief Inspector John Fish

Chief Inspector John Fish - Credit: Archant

An outreach worker has called on the police to protect Ilford Lane’s prostitutes after police claimed the women had “chosen” to continue selling sex.

Ch Insp John Fish said while the force was focusing on targeting kerb-crawlers, sex workers caught “in the act” will be arrested.

He said: “I’m sure the women didn’t look forward to becoming a prostitute in Ilford.

“But children come out and see sex litter in their driveways. It’s inexcusable.

“While we have got sympathy for the women, we have sympathy for the people that have to live in the area.

“We have outreach workers – sadly none of the women have chosen any option but to continue prostitution.

“The majority of women in the trade aren’t Redbridge residents. They’re travelling here from abroad with the intention of earning money before returning home.”

Most Read

Ch Insp Fish was speaking at Redbridge Police’s Ask Me event in St Alban’s Church, Albert Road, Ilford, on Monday.

The force organised the event as part of a drive to increase public confidence in police, with residents grilling the panel of senior officers on burglary, funding cuts and gangs – as well as the work being done to tackle prostitution in Ilford Lane.

“The women aren’t choosing to change their lives,” said Ch Insp Fish.

“The law’s very clear – it’s a crime. We enforce the law.

“When caught in the act, they are arrested.”

He said police were arresting “far more men than women”, with more than 80 suspected kerb-crawlers caught already this year.

A recent head count found just three sex workers in Ilford Lane on any one night, compared to more than 35 two years ago.

But Michelle Harewood, of the Safe Space project, told the meeting: “Just because there’s not a man standing next to them, or across the street, just because you can’t see these people, they are still being controlled by somebody.”

In November, fellow outreach worker Sophia Burley was attacked with a knife in Ilford Lane while on patrol.

“It was very nice for me that next day to not have to go out on the street,” said Ms Harewood, who witnessed the attack.

“But these women were out there on the street the following day. They are being threatened, they are scared for their lives.

“It’s your job to protect these people while they are in the borough. These women need some kind of protection.”