Politicians and police fight prostitution in Barking and Ilford at mosque meeting
PUBLISHED: 12:10 24 July 2017 | UPDATED: 12:10 24 July 2017
Margaret Hodge met about 100 people including Muslims, community leaders and police outside Al Madina mosque to discuss operations tackling prostitution.
On Friday, July 21, the Barking MP visited the mosque in Victoria Road, Barking, to speak with worshippers who say they are intimidated by organised criminals operating.
Joined by Redbridge Council leader Cllr Jas Athwal, she said police had been working hard to make the area safer after complaints in June that Ilford Lane, Ilford, and Victoria Road remained hotspots of antisocial behaviour after almost a decade of sex workers using in the area.
“Things are starting to move and action is being taken,” she said. “I did think this was a problem we’d dealt with but it looks as if it’s come back.”
Barking and Dagenham Council’s cabinet member for enforcement and community safety, Cllr Laila Butt, was also present after she and colleagues met with Redbridge councillors that morning.
Addressing concerned residents, Cllr Athwal said the two councils were working together to make Ilford and Barking safer, rather than just pushing prostitution out of one borough and into another.
“Every time we’ve chased prostitutes from Redbridge, they’ve gone across the border to Barking,” he said. “We now have joined-up policing and at the meeting this morning we discussed how both councils can take things forward.”
And Cllr Butt said she’d already seen an increased police presence as officers use both covert and public policing to protect residents who have grown impatient with crime levels.
“I’ve been up and down Ilford Lane and I’ve already noticed the change,” she said. “We need to give the police a chance.”
The mosque’s secretary Ash Siddique welcomed the increased police presence in Ilford and Barking where officers are using dispersal orders and targeting users of prostitutes.
He said the councils’ pro-active approach showed this was a problem that could be stopped and that “our elected officials and our law enforcement officers are working on our behalf”.
Dame Margaret secured a pledge from the police that they would meet at the mosque again at the end of September to review their progress and hear any remaining concerns.