Families have set up an action committee to tackle 20 years of growing prostitution that has plagued London’s East End.
They held a public meeting at Whitechapel’s Osmani centre with the new Met Police borough commander for Tower Hamlets, Dave Stringer, and the man who has led the arrests of 65 prostitutes in the area so far this year, Chief Insp Nigel Nottage.
An action plan has been agreed with the police chiefs and with Tower Hamlets Mayor Lutfur Rahman’s special advisor Axel Landin who all addressed Friday’s meeting.
It included setting up an East End vice squad after the Olympics, more night-time patrols, better street lighting and removing a public phone box the families say is used by prostitutes, pimps and drug dealers.
Chief Insp Nottage told the meeting: “Prostitution is not just a policing issue. We can deal with enforcement, but can’t make it go away. We need help from the community.”
Street prostitution had got worse since the 1980s when Mr Nottage was last stationed in the East End, he revealed.
Chief Supt Dave Stringer told residents: “I wouldn’t want to put up with this—I don’t see why you have to either.”
The newly-opened Osmani centre in Vallance Road is at the heart of a neighbourhood plagued by prostitution and drug dealing.
Osmani Trust senior manager Abu Mumin told the Advertiser: “There’s a lot of anger about prostitutes moving into housing estates near schools.
“We have children of 10 and 11 who have been approached in the street by prostitutes—they get propositioned which is unacceptable.”
The action group set up through Shoreditch Citizens, part of the London Citizens’ network of community organisations, is to meet police chiefs again after the Olympics and with the Tower Hamlets’ mayor.
The drive was spearheaded by mothers on Spitalfields’ Flower & Dean estate earlier this year who had been harassed by kerb-crawlers around Commercial Street.