Olympics vice boom ‘never happened’ in Hackney

Fears unfounded, say police cracking down on kerb crawling this week

FEARS that kerb crawlers would flood into Hackney as the 2012 Olympics approach have failed to materialise, according to cops cleaning up the borough’s vice hotspots.

Health experts had warned that an influx of migrant construction workers employed on the Olympic Park could spark a surge in prostitution and sexually transmitted diseases in the host boroughs.

But Sgt Steve Wright, of Dalston safer neighbourhoods team, who has been leading a police crackdown on kerb crawlers this week, said the predictions had not come true yet.

“Something we looked at – having liaised with the Olympic team and looking at previous Games in other countries – is that if you were going to have an increase it would be when all the workers arrive,” he said.

“But it didn’t transpire. Most of them have gone home or to work somewhere else – and we didn’t have a higher rate.”

His comments came as cops arrested kerb crawlers prowling for sex in Shacklewell Lane, Dalston, Lordship Park, Stoke Newington, and Brownswood Road, Finsbury Park, in a clampdown on the borough’s red-light areas this week.

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The Dalston safer neighbourhoods team seized four men after they propositioned a female decoy officer in Shacklewell Lane as temperatures plummeted on Monday night.

Two were charged and two opted to take part in a diversion course.

A further four men were charged following the second night of the operation on Tuesday and another man signed up for a diversion course.

More arrest are expected as the police operation continues this week. All those charged are due to appear at Thames magistrates’ court on Monday, December 20.

“The main thing for us is the safety of residents in Hackney and educating people from other countries that kerb crawling is not legal here,” said Sgt Wright.

Thierry Schaffauser, president of the GMB branch of the International Union of Sex Workers, agreed that Hackney had not seen an increase in prostitution in the run-up to the Olympics and argued the predictions had been used by politicians to further criminalise sex workers.

“Attacking kerb crawlers is attacking our livelihood and our safety,” he said.

“You have to go to more remote areas and you have less time to decide whether or not to get into the car.

“There is no evidence to suggest the Olympics will cause an increase in sex workers – but we will see what the impact is.”