Commission proposes ‘holistic’ approach to street prostitution in Newham

The Crime and Disorder Commission recommended a multi-agency approach to improve the lives of street

The Crime and Disorder Commission recommended a multi-agency approach to improve the lives of street prostitutes in Newham. - Credit: Archant

A report presented before the council on Thursday proposed a new way of dealing with street prostitution in the borough.

A report to last week’s meeting of Newham Council’s Cabinet recommends an all-encompassing approach bringing together the town hall, police, health services and other agencies to monitor the problem and improve the lives of vice girls, many of whom are vulnerable and exploited by pimps, traffickers and punters.

Tough enforcement against kerb crawlers and those who buy sex from the girls should continue says the council’s Crime and Disorder Commission, which compiled the report.

But it recommends looking into programmes to help vulnerable young people exploited by, or affected by, street prostitution and providing a exit route for those who want to escape.

It also proposes developing a drug intervention strategy because many of those involved in prostitution are addicts.

The report singles out Romford Road and the Little Ilford estate in Manor Park as red-light zones and the Commission also consulted a focus group on Woodgrange Road in Forest Gate about problems there.

Cllr Ian Corbett, executive member for infrastructure and environment, expressed concerns at last Thursday’s Cabinet that improving health services for prostitutes would act as a magnet attracting more to the borough.

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“The focus should be on residents and our voters rather than people that cause the trouble in their neighbourhoods,” he said.

“If you talk to the people of Stratford, they don’t have a lot of sympathy for the girls because they have to put up with all the trouble surrounding them.”

But Mayor Sir Robin Wales said he wholeheartedly agreed with a multi-agency, health-based approach.

He said: “For me, it’s very straight-forward. We will enforce the bejesus out of this and get this problem off the streets.

“But if someone wants help, then we will be there to help them because that’s what Resilience is all about.

“We will not walk away from people who want to do something to turn their lives around.”

The Executive had not prepared a response to the report so approval will be decided at next month’s Cabinet meeting.