Offenders to clean up calling cards from Soho and Westminster phone boxes
By SohoLisa | Sunday, October 17, 2010, 10:57
Following on from the story I reported on recently,
Offenders to help fight the illegal posting of prostitute calling cards
regarding the state of Soho’s iconic red telephone boxes and Westminster City
Council’s demands to have the boxes sealed permanently, it seems the Council
are taking steps to clean the remaining boxes.
People with criminal convictions are soon to be put to work on the streets of
Soho and the rest of Westminster, clearing phone boxes of prostitutes’ calling
cards as part of plans to cut costs and help rehabilitate offenders. Those
convicted of minor offences will be tasked with removing the cards from phone
boxes on the Edgware Road under the supervision of a police community support
officer and the scheme is part of a community payback order handed out by
courts instead of a custodial sentence. Previously the work has included gardening,
painting and cleaning, but this new addition to the scheme, should really
benefit Soho as well as the council’s coffers, by freeing up the time of
council employees and PCSO’s.
The offenders will work at weekends starting in November and
will be provided with gloves and tongs to remove the cards rather than fingers.
Offenders taking part in the scheme will also be advised to peel the cards back
carefully is they are glued to the phone box to avoid any cuts in the rare
incidents of razor blades being stuck behind the cards, before being disposed
Cllr Daniel Astaire, Cabinet Member for Society, Families
and Adult Services said: “This is a prime example of the way the council is
working to reach numerous goals. We are cleaning up the area, ensuring that
these people repay their debt to society and making a positive
contribution to the local neighbourhood.
“Prostitute cards are
more than just an offensive eyesore. By dialling the number the caller is
entering a world of organised crime, trafficked women and exploited underage
Another attempt to
ditch the dirt is the council’s call to two of the UK's major fixed line phone
companies to introduce call barring of numbers on the cards using a process
pioneered by BT.
Telewest Broadband and ntl agreed to bar any phone numbers they have issued
that are found on prostitute cards after agreeing that They will be following
the Targeted Recording and Processing (TRAP) system that BT has been using to
stop calls since 1996. Under the process, cards that have been removed
from phone boxes are recorded onto a computer system and a customer whose phone
number is found advertised five times is sent a warning letter. Finally, if the
number continues to be found on cards, incoming calls are stopped to that line.
I think it’s a great scheme and particularly useful for the Soho community, as
calling cards and the other rubbish which swamps our streets at times, is one
that is a costly menace. I can’t really see however that this will deter or
even discourage the illegal cards, since as soon as the cards are removed, more
will follow and they will perhaps even move towards using stickers to make it
that much more difficult to remove. It’s a long standing problem in Soho and one
that doesn’t seem like it will be solved anytime soon.