Mayor to Clamp Down on Pimp Calling Cards
Local campaigner highlights problem in telephone boxes

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A local campaigner has highlighted a problem in Acton and Ealing after it was reported yesterday that gangs of pimps leaving calling cards in phone boxes could have their mobile phones cut off to deter sex crime in the run-up to the Olympics.

Victor Mishiku, spokesman for the Covenant Movement which frequently helps residents to make representations to Councils on planning issues, has written to local Police, councillors, officers, politicians and the Mayor of London to point out that these cards, advertising 'massage services' are widespread in W3 and W5.

In his email Mr Michiku said: "In the London Borough of Ealing we now have about 300 public phone boxes (owned by BT, Spectrum Interactive and another company) where the "carders" have cleverly unscrewed the unusual hexagonal screws which hold the Perspex cover in place on the notice board area and overlaid their "Massage" services adverts thereon.

"[The cards] are all over the place in Ealing, North Ealing, Acton and likely other places.

"By placing the advertising material under the Perspex sheets, it is difficult to merely pull them off (as in Soho where they are stuck on with some putty-like material) and you would need a special tool to do this."

Mr Mishiku has highlighted the problem to community police several times but he says the cards are still there.

Meanwhile, Mayor Boris Johnson has called a meeting with major phone companies, BT and the police to target the gangs who control prostitution by advertising in this way. He fears tourists will see a rise in prostitution and human trafficking and wants to see mobile phone operators and the police take their numbers out of use.

Major sporting events are often linked to a surge in demand for prostitution, which in turn fuels human trafficking. At the Athens Olympics the number of human trafficking victims almost doubled.

Kit Malthouse, deputy mayor for policing, said: "In Athens, not only did the level of prostitution go up, but it stayed up. We don't want that legacy. Nothing is more important to a pimp or trafficker than money. We want to cut their access to cash and punters starting by ridding London of prostitute cards in telephone boxes.

"We want phone companies to make it difficult for the pimps and traffickers by barring them."

Although prostitution is legal, placing cards in phone boxes became an offence in 2001 - a change in which Mr Malthouse was heavily involved when he was a councillor in Westminster.

A meeting is expected to be held in October. A spokeswoman for O2 said the company "will be happy to discuss this issue".


August 20, 2009