The Sun published photos of Albanian gangsters selling women on Oxford Street today and said: "Worryingly, senior officers fear the numbers of East Europeans being trafficked is growing steeply as London prepares to host the Olympic Games in 2012."
But has the problem got worse since a Guardian report back in July? Then the police had noticed a "small increase in women being trafficked into the areas to work in brothels" although officers said they expected a "huge surge" into Olympic boroughs to cater for the 25,000-strong construction workforce and to prepare for millions of visitors in 2012.
Lets hope London is not like Chicago were research estimates that 3 percent of the sex acts performed by prostitutes were "freebies" given to Chicago police officers to avoid arrest.A more indepth explanation of this claim on the Superfreakonomics website: "Of all the tricks turned by the prostitutes he tracked, roughly 3 percent were freebies given to police officers. The data don’t lie: a Chicago street prostitute is more likely to have sex with a cop than to be arrested by one."
And is prostitution the past-time of construction workers only? This report from the Independent in 1992 shows it probably isn't: "On the same day it re-emerged that at least two IOC members accepted offers of prostitutes from a bid committee trying to land the 1992 Olympic Games for Amsterdam. Prince Frederic von Saxe-Lauenberg said: "I was there [in 1986] and saw it, IOC members being offered women and two accepting."
The Guardian said that research carried out at the Sydney Olympics in 2000 showed that about 10,000 sex workers were operating in the area while in Athens, in 2004, the Greek government reported a 95% increase in the number of human trafficking victims. A story from 2003 said that the Greek authorities were even considering legalising brothels ahead of the games.
In August Boris Johnson said he would target this illegal sex industry by tackling their advertising - often with cards in phone boxes, by asking mobile phone companies to cut off the numbers.
The Sun said that the new unit had rescued 25 sex "slaves", 21 of these were related to the incident on Oxford Street.
APPARENTLY the cops now say that there isn't really that much of a problem (and this might answer the point below about some phone booths being free from sex ads) - this is from EastLondonLines - Olympic prostitution, an expensive non-event