On the 13th of July 2012 residents from the Vallance Road area with support from the Aasha Project (a project of Osmani Trust) and Shoreditch Citizens organised a community meeting with Dave Stringer (Borough Commander), senior Council officers and other stakeholders. The aim of the meeting was to address the issues of street prostitution in and around the Vallance Road area and the negative impact that they have on the local community. This is a problem that local residents have been facing for over 20 years. The Aasha Project along with local residents started to work with Shoreditch Citizen following a similar successful campaign on the nearby Flower & Dean Estate.
In the weeks prior to the meeting Aasha staff with volunteers and local residents visited other residents and local businesses; they knocked on doors, filmed residents and collated information on questionnaires regarding these issues. Some of the estates visited include; Lister House, Hughes Mansions, Shahjalal Estate, Selby Estate, Buxton Street and other surrounding estates near Vallance road. The areas were identified after talking to people where drug abuse and prostitution have been visible for a long time.
Over 120 people attended the meeting which made various demands from the Borough Commander and the Council. The following outcomes were achieved:
1. Bail conditions were placed on Vallance Road, immediately after Friday’s meeting.
2. Police patrolling hours will be increased soon from 10pm-8am, specifically targeting prostitutes and kerb crawlers.
3. There will be a permanent vice squad in place after the Olympics.
“Street prostitution is different, it brings violence and drugs. We can deal with that with a permanent squad of officers who’ll know who the prostitutes are and can identify these women and know if they’re subject to bail conditions or Anti-Social orders.” (Dave Stringer, Tower Hamlets Borough Commander)
Muhinur Choudhury, Manager of the Aasha Project, said “Empowering communities to solve their own problems through grass roots engagement is a far better strategy than trying to arrest our way out of any problem. Projects like Aasha are well placed to reach young people to motivate them towards change. Young people and residents want to take the step, we just need to reach out to them, earn their trust and assist them.”