BAN: Fines will be dished out to kerb crawlers anywhere in Redbridge
A LONDON borough plagued by prostitutes and kerb crawlers has become the first council in the country to effectively ban men seeking sex from its streets.
Redbridge Council has granted an order meaning it can issue on the spot £100 fines to people found kerb-crawling in any street in the borough, without having to haul offenders to court.
Undercover police and CCTV cameras are being used to pick up offenders who try to flout the ban.
The east London authority is convinced it will dry up the customer base for sex workers.
It has taken the action after an explosion of Romanian and other eastern European sex workers believed to have been trafficked into working as prostitutes.
The problem became so bad in Ilford Lane, Ilford, that parked vehicles with mattresses in the back were being used as mobile brothels.
A joint crackdown with police, which drafted in officers from Romania, saw the problem shift into other streets across the borough and pop-up brothels.
MURDERED: Mariana Pope, a Romanian prostitute was stabbed to death in Ilford Lane in 2013
At one stage the authority was closing down one brothel a week.
After residents complained of noise and used condoms and mattresses littering the streets, the council undertook a review called the Routes out of Prostitution that and concluded the prostitutes were largely victims who were being treated by the authorities as perpetrators.
It led to the introduction of the public space protection order which targets the men who are buying sex.
Leader of the council Cllr Jas Athwal said: “This is absolutely the right thing for us to do and I’m proud we are leading the way in tackling the issue head on.
"It’s unacceptable that people going about their daily lives have to put up with being accosted and feeling unsafe.
TRAFFICKED: Eastern European prostitutes have become a huge issue along Ilford Lane
"The police have undertaken some successful operations to combat prostitution in the borough but the problem persists.
"The order will have an immediate impact by enabling us to maintain a visible presence on the street, issue fines immediately and disrupt and stop this activity.
"By creating a borough-wide zone, a ring of steel, it also means we will deter people seeking sex services from entering Redbridge in the first place and stop the problem from moving from one area to another.
"I’ve no doubt other councils will be watching our approach and it could lead to others following suit.”
The order does not cover brothels in buildings, but the council has also launched a crackdown on people advertising them through stickers placed across lampposts, signs and bus shelters.
KILLER: Farooq Shah was jailed for life for killing Miss Pope because she plied for trade near a mosque
Inspector Lee Canter from the Met Police said: “Police in Redbridge have been working hard in partnership with the council to tackle the on street sex trade and the associated anti-social behaviour present in the Ilford Lane area.
"Anyone who approaches sex workers either in a vehicle or on foot can expect to be dealt with for any breaches of the order by police or council enforcement officers.
"There is a clear message that we wish to convey, being Redbridge is not a convenient place to obtain sexual services.”