Ilford Lane outreach worker: ‘We may never see an end to the prostitution’

Sophia Burley, of Safe Space Project (SSP), has engaged with the women twice-a-week, every week for

Sophia Burley, of Safe Space Project (SSP), has engaged with the women twice-a-week, every week for the past four years. - Credit: Archant

Prostitution on Ilford Lane may always exist on the road, according to one outreach worker who has been a part of a four-year project to improve relations with the women.

Sophia Burley, of Safe Space Project (SSP), has engaged with the women twice-a-week, every week for the past four years.

She applauded the efforts of all the partners - including Redbridge Council - which are working hard to stop sex workers conjugating on the road, but admitted it may not be enough.

“I cannot honestly say that we will get a complete end to it,” she said. “We may get a reduction but never a complete end.

“We face challenges because a lot of the women are not interested or they work long hours during the night.


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“It takes a while to build up trust with them or the majority of women say they are here to make money due to poverty and having to take care of their families.”

The Ilford Recorder learnt last week from police around 140 arrests have been made since the murder of Mariana Popa in Ilford Lane last year.

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Police have admitted to switching their focus to kerb-crawlers on the road to try to reduce demand for the women “to collapse the market place”.

Miss Burley’s Safe Space Project listens and helps women who have become victims of sexual exploitation and works under the umbrella of Redbridge Street Pastors.

She added she was unsure if any prostitutes were underage, but said she had her “suspicions” some may have been trafficked but she could not say for sure.

“The majority of women are in their early 20s,” she added. “There may be trafficking, where they have been brought to this country by a “boyfriend” but no one has admitted to it.

“We cannot really say for sure, but we have had our suspicions.”

Miss Burley said all the partners have a “good working relationship” when it came to Ilford Lane.

“All the partners do work well together,” she added.

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