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New £20k project aims to change mindsets of people buying sex in Redbridge

PUBLISHED: 17:00 14 January 2020

Police conduct regular patrols of Ilford Lane and the surrounding streets. Picture: Ellena Cruse

Police conduct regular patrols of Ilford Lane and the surrounding streets. Picture: Ellena Cruse

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Redbridge Council hopes to change the mindsets of people buying sex in the borough through a series of "behaviour-changing" initiatives.

By changing the behaviour of those who solicit prostitutes, the council hopes to see a long-term improvement to the environment in Ilford South, while also helping reduce the need for regular enforcement action.

The council wants to shift the community's mindset by changing their anger towards women involved in prostitution into an intolerance towards the men in the community who are driving the demand for service.

The £20,000 grant from the Local Government Association (LGA) for the project is in addition to a raft of measures already in place to help tackle prostitution and support women, the council said.

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The extra funding will go towards supporting and evaluating behaviour change work by the council, which will include a range of initiatives from developing messaging for campaigns, leaflets, community engagement and display boards to appointing community champions.

The aim of the project is to make sure people buying sex understand that women engaging in prostitution are often victims of trafficking and coercion, who would choose a different life, and that there is a lack of consent if the person being paid for sex is trafficked and being forced into prostitution.

Council leader Councillor Jas Athwal said: "We're already doing a lot of good work tackling prostitution in the borough working closely with the police and local community, and have seen a huge decline in on-street prostitution.

"However, it's equally important to focus on changing the mindset and behaviour of those engaging in this type of practice to ensure a shift in attitude that will help deter local people from purchasing sex to begin with."

The council was awarded the LGA grant through its behavioural insights programme, which encourages innovation to help people make better choices for themselves and society.

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