On-street crackdown of Ilford prostitution pushed into ‘pop-up brothels’ as demographics of women changed

At an external scrutiny meeting the Redbridge Safer Communities Partnership team gave an update on t

At an external scrutiny meeting the Redbridge Safer Communities Partnership team gave an update on the council's efforts to tackle prostitution across the borough. Picture: PA/Yui Mok - Credit: PA Archive/PA Images

Redbridge Council acknowledged that as part of its commitment to tackle on-street prostitution in Ilford it has pushed it into “pop-up” brothels. But the authority has pledged to tackle the issue from all angles.

Speaking at an external scrutiny committee meeting, the council's crime partnership manager John Richards said the number of women suspected to be involved in prostitution observed in the area around Ilford Lane has fallen from a peak of 35 women a night to be between one and four on occasional nights.

He also said the demographics and backgrounds of the women has changed.

Mr Richards said where in the past the prostitutes were 'exclusively Romanian we are now looking at a far smaller cohort of largely English drug-using prostitutes who we have got a lot of support services available to help'.

He also said that though some of the activity has moved inside the partnership is using outreach services to help those who have been pushed into pop-up brothels.

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Mr Richards said: 'We know that us dealing with on-street prostitution has pushed it inside and we have done a number of safeguarding visits in brothels.

'Are we ever going to take our foot off the pedal? I think our commitment and the council investing £300,000 in new enforcement officers to tackle this long-term, means we're not going to take our foot off the pedal on this.'

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The council officer spoke at the meeting on Monday, March 9 to give an end of year report for 2019/2020 on the council's efforts to deal with priorities as part of Redbridge Safer Communities Partnership.

The five priorities as part of the programme are Safeguarding Vulnerable Victims, Reducing Vulnerability to Offend, Burglary and Robbery, Ilford Town Centre and Safeguarding from Radicalisation.

As part of joint police and council operations to tackle prostitution in Ilford more than 150 fixed penalty notices were issued and there were 15 national referrals to exit programmes.

As part of Operation Magpie, which was launched in October to engage and support the women involved in prostitution, police raided five addresses and 20 women were taken to a reception centre away from their handlers to provide them with support and exit services.

As a result of the operation two brothels were shut down.

Going forward there will be continued on-street enforcement and safeguarding visits to identified pop-up brothels.

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