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Report plans ‘the next step’ in Redbridge Council’s battle with prostitution

PUBLISHED: 11:00 03 November 2016

Ilford Lane at dusk

Ilford Lane at dusk

Archant

Police and council enforcement officers will be able to hand out harsher penalties to those caught using prostitutes if an overhaul of the borough’s strategy goes ahead.

A report on the sale of sex in Redbridge, written by the council’s routes out of prostitution working group, will go before the council’s overview committee on Tuesday.

It contains a list of strategic and operational recommendations to reinvigorate the borough’s fight against prostitution, both on and off the street.

Cllr Neil Zammett, chairman of the group, said: “I think the borough has done well to have a clear policy to combat the problems of prostitution in the borough for the last couple of years.

“But this is now the next logical step in the road to improve our policy and make sure we’re getting it right.”

One of the group’s key recommendations is that more needs to be done to penalise men using prostitutes.

To that end, ideas put forward in the report, which was written in co-operation with police and enforcement officers, include automatic number plate recognition installed at kerb-crawling hotspots, raising fines and greater involvement from members of the public in areas around suspected brothels.

Statistics within the report show Redbridge Police stopped more than 150 women in the area over the past 16 months.

“The sheer number of young women involved in prostitution in Redbridge was the biggest surprise to me,” said Cllr Zammett.

“150 women in and around just Ilford Lane is a lot of women, many of whom unfortunately don’t have a way out.”

Most gave home addresses in Redbridge and were, on average, between 21 and 24 years old.

Another concern raised in the report is the organised nature of prostitution in the borough, with the vast majority of women found to be selling sex Romanian nationals.

The fact that so many of these women were working in one place was indicative of a wider criminal enterprise, the report concluded.

“It points to a degree of organisation and control from criminal gangs operating across borough and national boundaries,” it said.

Police have also closed more than 50 brothels in Redbridge over the past 16 months.

The group’s recommendations will need to be agreed by Redbridge Council’s overview committee before being voted into policy.


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