Manor Park prostitution PSPO 'under consideration', authorities say

Manor Park march

Around 40 to 50 residents took part in the demonstration - Credit: Iqbal Hussain

Authorities have said a public space protection order (PSPO) is being considered after Manor Park residents called for one to be introduced to tackle prostitution.

Around 40 to 50 people marched from Manor Park Library to Forest Gate Police Station to urge action on the issue.

Acting Ch Insp Marcus Walton, who leads on violence against women and girls for the North East BCU, said: "The demand for a public space protection order and all options are actively being considered and with all, consultation and engagement is paramount to properly inform.  

"Further updates and reports will be shared as operations and actions continue and deliver results.

"Communities that care and work together overcome, and Newham police are grateful to those wanting to work jointly as we improve the area."

The march was organised by Iqbal Hussain, who co-ordinates Manor Park Neighbourhood Watch and is a governor at Little Ilford School.

The father-of-three, who is also assistant general secretary at Shah Jalal Mosque in Romford Road, said residents had seen an increase in prostitution activity since the end of lockdown.

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He said this included outside places of worship on Romford Road.

"Enough is enough and it needs to be resolved as soon as possible", Iqbal told the Recorder.

"We see it as a neighbourhood issue. If we tackle this, it is for everyone and especially families."

Iqbal Hussain organised the action

Iqbal Hussain organised the action - Credit: Iqbal Hussain

For him, Newham has "not done anything" about the matter and Iqbal accused the police and council of saying it was the other's issue.

He said: "I do not think police take the issue seriously enough. Police go past Romford Road and they do not do anything.

"They have other priorities."

Acting Ch Insp Walton said: "The situation and challenges are absolutely known and recognised by both police and Newham Council. We are actively seeking to address matters by all reasonable means.  

"We are engaged with support charities offering help, advice and diversion to those workers willing to engage or accept help.  

"We have secured additional funding and resources for high visibility and joint partnership, reassurance and enforcement patrols.

"Education and change of user habit and attitude is also paramount in this along with providing safeguarding of all concerned. Where organised crime and exploitation is evident, action is being taken."

Iqbal felt the solution is the introduction of a PSPO in Manor Park, specifically on prostitution.

The lifelong Manor Park resident cited the example of Redbridge, which brought in a PSPO in 2018 which gave police and council officers the power to issue fines to anyone caught buying sexual services in the borough.

The march ended at Forest Gate Police Station

The march ended at Forest Gate Police Station - Credit: Iqbal Hussain

He said residents would "come out again" if the issue is not resolved.

Councillor Carleene Lee-Phakoe, cabinet member for crime and community safety, said the council "is gathering evidence" for the implementation of a PSPO to "help the policing efforts in targeting perpetrators who exploit vulnerable individuals and affect our neighbourhoods".

She added: “We know that residents in Little Ilford and Manor Park are concerned about the presence of street sex workers on Romford Road.

"The police are alert to this and are taking action.

"Separately we are supporting on and off-street sex workers from exploitation through work with organisations who are providing a range of services to sex workers and offering a safe space to access support when needed.

"We are building a fairer Newham and as a council we will be driving forward a strategy to support those who are being exploited.

"As lead member I will be leading the effort along with the Metropolitan Police Service to bring the full weight of the criminal justice system down on those who seek to exploit vulnerable people.

"I am dedicated to ensuring that the streets of Newham are a safe and welcoming environment for all residents."

Cllr Lee-Phakoe said she and ward councillors will meet with residents "to address the common challenges".

A/Ch Insp Walton encouraged anyone who does not feel safe to use the StreetSafe service at www.police.uk/pu/notices/streetsafe/street-safe/ or to call 999 in an emergency.