Offenders to clean up calling cards from Soho and Westminster phone boxes

Profile image for SohoLisa

By SohoLisa | Sunday, October 17, 2010, 10:57

Following on from the story I reported on recently,

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.

Phone companies

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.



  • Profile image for Nova_Grace

    So you're happy to see human excrement and used needles pile up in the boxes I suppose? It's all well and good to come across as a Daily Mail-hating liberal, but I live in Soho will my young daughter and if she hurt herself on a discarded needle or happened to pay a little more attention to some of the sexually graphic postitute cards which get left in and around the boxes, I don't think I'd be quite so quick to 'leave the phone boxes alone' as you say.

    By Nova_Grace at 00:46 on 15/11/10

  • Profile image for africaoyibo

    leave the phone boxes alone.stop reading the daily mail,and enjoy soho.its for everyone.

    By africaoyibo at 15:46 on 13/11/10

  • Profile image for Nova_Grace

    It's about time they started doing something to pay for their crimes, however small. Can't see why this hasn't been done be fore, though I can think of more important things they could be doing, even if the cards are a menace!

    By Nova_Grace at 22:22 on 19/10/10

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