World
Hooker busts on the rise in pre-Olympic London

An aerial view shows the North Greenwich Arena with Canary Wharf in the background in London, March 27, 2012. London will host this summer's Olympic Games.

Credits: REUTERS/STEFAN WERMUTH

THANE BURNETT | QMI AGENCY

Sorry lads, but prostitution will not become a sanctioned event at the London Olympics.

Before the world's undivided attention lands on London hosting the Summer Games, U.K. police are apparently cracking down on sex-trade workers around venue sites.

Though one Canadian researcher says it would make more sense to create legal brothels to run along-side the Games.
While the 2012 London Olympics don't begin until July, social activists allege brothels and sex trade workers are being busted in unusual numbers.

"The clampdown is predicable," said Andrew Boff, a British politician, in an e-mail exchange with QMI Agency.

"But like all previous large sporting events, there is no evidence to support the view that the Olympics is a catalyst for an increase in sex trafficking."

British media report in Newham, where the Olympic stadium stands, the number of prostitution-related charges almost doubled last year from the year before.

And in the London borough of Tower Hamlets, 44 alleged prostitutes have been arrested by police so far this year. That's about matches all of last year's arrests in the east-end community.

Boff, a Conservative member of the London Assembly, said brothels are being shut down and prostitutes given strict orders to stay clear of certain areas.

But officials with the Metropolitan Police say the increased attention has nothing to do with the Summer Games, and they're simply responding to community concerns and complaints.

A study just released on the impact of the Vancouver Olympics found an expected increase in the sex trade never ended up happening.

And Dr. Kate Shannon, lead researchers for the University of British Columbia study said, instead, Vancouver sex-trade workers were moved away from the safety of their usual locations, and were forced into less visible and more dangerous areas.

"Policy reforms that prevent police crackdowns and criminalization approaches and support access to safer indoor work spaces -- brothels -- are critical," Shannon explained of ensuring reduced harm for sex workers both during and after all Olympics.

She added that, despite lots of hype, researchers found no evidence to support concerns of trafficking in the lead up to or during the Vancouver Winter Games.

The Olympics offer a chance, the researcher pointed out, for officials to work with sex workers in protecting their futures.

But it seems London officials have another game plan.

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