A Dalston resident has challenged government and media claims that sex trafficking and prostitution rise during the Olympics. Previous Olympic Minister, Tessa Jowell, said, “There is some anecdotal evidence to suggest that international sporting events might create demand for paid sex due to the influx of tourists, site workers, contractors and the media.”
Yet Thea Kipping, 43, told the police at last week’s community meeting that prostitution in the area “was quiet over the Olympics but has kicked off again now”. Ms. Kipping’s statement reinforces a report by The Met’s human exploitation squad, SCD9, that stated: “Intelligence does not support any increase in prostitution in the Olympic Boroughs and actually shows a decrease in some locations.”
Despite the brief hiatus over the Olympics, loud prostitutes and kerb crawlers on Shacklewell Lane are disturbing the neighbourhood again. Ms. Kipping called for the “use of ASBOs and bail conditions to combat the noise and keep the trade out of the neighbourhood”.
London’s East End has been renowned for prostitution for centuries and notorious Shacklewell Lane made the headlines in 2006 when lawyer Christine Newton was bitten and mugged there by a prostitute while on her way to work.
Local constable David Ship described the recent surge in activity as a “sporadic flaring up” and told residents to “contact the mobile CCTV crew if there were further noise disturbances.”
But the community called for extra police patrols and reminded the force that as their commitment to the Olympics is over they now have the resources to set up a permanent vice squad. SCD9’s or ‘Vice squads’ have led some of the Metropolitan Police’s most celebrated cases, including the prosecution of Cynthia Payne, the “Luncheon Voucher Madam,” whose south London brothel provided the inspiration for 1987 film Personal Services.
Cari Mitchell, spokeswoman for the English Collective of Prostitutes (ECP), has recommended more focus on the causes of prostitution rather than the prosecution of it. Ms. Mitchell said: “Prostitution is a situation that affects men and women whose roots are a severe social and economic problem, and the result of stigmatisation in society.”
Trust, a London charity that supports prostitutes, also argues that: “Many of these women are experiencing post traumatic shock or other mental health difficulties and most have abusive drug and alcohol use.”
A Trust client, who wished to remain anonymous, said of her experience: “I was on the run from home. I came to London and didn’t realise I could’ve claimed benefits and a friend of mine said to work in a hostess club in the West End. So I started at the top of the prostitution food chain.
“The drugs didn’t come for another six years. I wasn’t working to feed my drug habit at first. The drugs didn’t put me on the street; at first I was working to put a roof over my head and for clothes and food. Later, in my mid-twenties, I met a partner who was using heroin. I was curious to try it and stupid enough to do so. He was a brilliant guitar player but he’s dead now from a methadone overdose.”