Politicians and police fight prostitution in Ilford Lane at mosque meeting

Barking MP Margaret Hodge joined Redbridge Council leader Jas Athwal to discuss how police are fight

Barking MP Margaret Hodge joined Redbridge Council leader Jas Athwal to discuss how police are fighting prostition near Al Madina mosque and in Ilford Lane - Credit: Archant

MPs, councillors and police from Redbridge and Barking and Dagenham held a second public meeting in as many months to discuss prostitution around Ilford Lane.

On Friday the Ilford South MP Mike Gapes, Barking MP Margaret Hodge and Redbridge Council leader Cllr Jas Athwal gave residents an update on the Met’s new operation outside the Al Madina mosque, in Victoria Road, Barking.

Dame Margaret said police had been working hard to make the area safer after complaints in June that Ilford Lane and Victoria Road remained hotspots of antisocial behaviour after almost a decade of sex workers using in the area.

Officers held a public meeting last month to hear residents’ concerns, and now the veteran MP has reported progress is being made.

“Things are starting to move and action is being taken,” she said.

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“I did think this was a problem we’d dealt with but it looks as if it’s come back.”

Barking and Dagenham Council’s cabinet member for enforcement and community safety, Cllr Laila Butt, was also present after she and colleagues met with Redbridge councillors that morning.

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Addressing concerned residents, Cllr Athwal said the two councils were working together to make Ilford and Barking safer, rather than just pushing prostitution out of one borough and into another.

“Every time we’ve chased prostitutes from Redbridge, they’ve gone across the border to Barking,” he said. “We now have joined-up policing and at the meeting this morning we discussed how both councils can take things forward.”

And Cllr Butt said she’d already seen an increased police presence as officers use both covert and public policing to protect residents who have grown impatient with crime levels.

“I’ve been up and down Ilford Lane and I’ve already noticed the change,” she said.

The mosque’s secretary Ash Siddique welcomed the increased police presence in Ilford and Barking where officers are using dispersal orders and targeting users of prostitutes.

He said the councils’ pro-active approach showed this was a problem that could be stopped and that “our elected officials and our law enforcement officers are working on our behalf”.

Police will hold another public meeting at the end of September.

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