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Olympics sex worker clampdown 'is health, safety risk'

WHEN the oldest profession clashes with the Ancient Games, the women get moved on. Raids on brothels and tough action against street prostitutes in parts of London hosting the Olympics have sparked claims that the streets are being cleared at the cost of the safety and health of sex workers.

Following dozens of raids on flats used by sex workers over the past 18 months, police have focused on vulnerable women working the streets of the Olympic zones' most impoverished areas who are least likely to benefit from any summer Games boom, say groups working with the women.

Strict bail conditions and threats of antisocial behaviour orders have sent many of the women underground, forcing them away from areas they know well and disrupting contact with workers monitoring their health.

"If people suddenly believe they have seen the error of their ways and are now in regular employment as a result, I think we're fooling ourselves," said Andrew Boff, a London Assembly member who wrote a critical report on the policing of sex workers in the capital. "A lot of these people's incomes are dependent on this business."

Scotland Yard's specialist trafficking unit received an extra £500,000 (€620,000) for work to combat an anticipated increase in the sex trade around the Games. Police yesterday confirmed its monitoring work had not identified any increase in trafficking in the five Olympic boroughs: Tower Hamlets, Newham, Greenwich, Waltham Forest and Hackney. (©Independent News Service)

Irish Independent