Olympics

Prostitutes being cleared before Games?

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Prostitutes are being cleared from the streets and large numbers of brothels are being shut down in London's five Olympic boroughs ahead of the London Games, a charity group claims.

Toynbee Hall, a London anti-poverty charity, says the number of prostitutes arrested in the Olympic borough of Tower Hamlets this year has already exceeded the tally for all of 2011, The (London) Times reported Monday.

The charity group says 80 brothels have been shut down in the five Olympic boroughs -- Newham, Tower Hamlets, Greenwich, Hackney and Waltham Forest -- in the past year, compared to just 29 closures in London's other 32 boroughs.

"This increased activity has happened disproportionately in the Olympic boroughs," said Andrew Boff, a London Assembly member and spokesman for the Conservative group on the Olympics.

Boff said he supported police action where local residents had complained about anti-social behavior, but added he was worried authorities were "clamping down on prostitution without these complaints."

A spokesman for the Metropolitan Police said a team had been set up in 2010 to address vice-related crime in the Olympic boroughs, the Times reported.

Host nations are known to crack down on groups like prostitutes and the homeless ahead of the Olympics as hundreds of thousands of international visitors fly in for the quadrennial sporting event. At the last Olympics in Beijing in 2008, Chinese authorities expelled poor migrant workers and the homeless from the city prior to the Games.

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