PROSTITUTES in east London are not being picked on by police due to the Olympics, local authorities have insisted, despite reports showing that arrests of sex workers have shot up in the area in recent months.

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‘The work we are doing with the police to tackle prostitution is not related to the Olympics,” said a spokesperson for Tower Hamlets council.

“Our residents have raised it as a concern.”

Tower Hamlets has seen 44 prostitutes arrested in the first three months of this year, more than for the whole of 2011 and in nearby Newham, similar arrests have gone up from 14 in 2010/11 to 37 in 2011/12.

On top of those arrests, 80 brothels in the five Olympic boroughs – Greenwich, Hackney, Newham, Tower Hamlets and Waltham Forest – have been closed by police in the last 18 months, compared to only 29 closed over the same period across the whole of the rest of Greater London.

“This increased activity has happened disproportionately in the Olympic boroughs,” said London Assembly member Andrew Boff, who has written a report on the issue.

The Metropolitan Police started a vice clampdown in the five Olympic boroughs in 2010, mainly under the banner of stopping human trafficking. But, while there is ample evidence that prostitution rises during major sporting events, the evidence for increases in human trafficking is less obvious.

In fact, a UN report into the matter following the 2006 World Cup in Germany found that “an increase in human 
trafficking during and after the World Cup did not occur.”