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Prostitutes 'pushed behind closed doors'

PUBLISHED: 13:50 01 October 2008 | UPDATED: 10:19 22 July 2010

PROSTITUTES are as widespread in Islington as ever – the only thing that's changed is they now conduct business behind closed doors instead of on the streets, a new report claims.

PROSTITUTES are as widespread in Islington as ever - the only thing that's changed is they now conduct business behind closed doors instead of on the streets, a new report claims.

Police action has reduced the numbers of women selling sex around King's Cross and Market Road, Holloway.

But new research by women's charity Eaves explodes the myth that the borough's vice problems are disappearing.

Instead it says prostitutes operate in high street shops and private homes rather than on street corners.

Helen Atkins, of Eaves, said: "In the last 10 years there has been a shift from most business being on the street. Now 85 per cent of it is off the street.

"The situation in King's Cross and Market Road is displacement rather than removal. There is still as much of this activity going on but now it happens behind closed doors."

A team of male investigators posed as customers to call Islington women offering services in saunas, massage parlours and online. Seventy-three per cent of them freely offered sex over the phone.

Now Eaves is calling on Islington's authorities to stop "turning a blind eye" to brothels.

"In Islington brothels are operating with virtual impunity," said Ms Atkins. "They are happy to say over the phone to a stranger, 'You can buy sex from this place.' It is against the law, but there are few repercussions which means brothels are being tacitly accepted."

The survey paints a picture of prostitution as a widespread problem affecting women of all ages, creeds and backgrounds. Researchers were offered sex by teenage mothers as young as 18 and women aged up to 60.

The prostitutes came from 25 different ethnic backgrounds and children were often present during the phone conversations. So-called "luxury services" including kissing and anal sex were on offer for as little as £60.

Helen said: "What struck us was the range of ethnicities and the availability of specialist, or 'luxury' services that used to be incredibly expensive such as anal sex."

A police spokeswoman said: "We are not aware of a problem with prostitution taking place behind closed doors in Islington.

"We continue to close brothels in King's Cross where there has been a problem with prostitute calling cards. Historically, there have been sex workers in Market Road but there has been a big reduction. We also work with Islington Council to prevent sex workers having sex in public places by cutting back foliage and moving parking bays. Prostitution behind closed doors is not always an offence.


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