Redbridge Police Chief Inspector: Number of arrests not paramount in Ilford Lane

Redbridge Police in Ilford Lane.

Redbridge Police in Ilford Lane. - Credit: Archant

Sex workers in Ilford Lane will just relocate to another road should the police get their tactics wrong, according to Chief Inspector John Fish.

Chief Inspector John Fish

Chief Inspector John Fish - Credit: Archant

Around 140 arrests have been made in the last year on the road, but Ch Insp Fish said working with outreach workers, such as Redbridge Street Pastors, is as important as arrests.

“Prostitution localises a bit like a shopping parade,” said Ch Insp Fish, who has been working on police operations in Ilford Lane for two years.

“If I stamp really hard on prostitution in Ilford Lane, men will travel five miles to another location.

“I don’t think the public care about the number of arrests, they care about seeing a prostitute at the end of their road.”


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Working with Redbridge Council, a long-term programme has been set up over the last two and a half years to install alley-gates, cut back vegetation and improve lighting in the area.

Two new gates and new lights have been installed in an alleyway off Howard Road to deter prostitutes operating in this area.

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Lights will also be going up in Fernways soon, according to a council spokesman.

Ch Insp Fish added sex workers in Ilford Lane are unlikely to have been trafficked from abroad offering underage sex.

“Standing on the street, prostitutes are going to be approached by outreach workers, by health professionals and by council officials,” he said.

“If you were moving people around Europe offering underage sex you would not be putting them on the street - it is far too exposed.

“They would probably have a conversation with someone within two or three days.

“There is no experience the women working on Ilford Lane are being trafficked.”

Shutting down brothels is another vital part of police operations in the borough.

Police visit suspected sites within 48 hours of an alleged brothel being reported.

Ch Insp Fish added: “If we’re going to find trafficked people it would be inside a premises.

“If we can get round there quickly after they have moved in, [the gangs] will lose their deposit and they won’t make a profit.”

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