£300,000 of Illegal pornography seized during Soho raids
By SohoLisa | Wednesday, October 20, 2010, 09:32
Thousands of illegal pornographic DVDs worth more than £300,000 have been seized by Westminster Council officers in a series of Soho raids recently.The council has also served six illegal sex shops with closure notices and is currently going through the legal processes to have them closed permanently as sex shops.
The war on the seedier side of Soho
Soho Licensed Sex Shops are not under threat
The 13,000 illegal DVDs and other items, have a street value if around £325,000 and were all taken from the shops in a series of nearly 30 raids since April.
On each occasion, officers went into the premises and seized unclassified DVDs and other items in the shops – the contents of which has been stored as evidence. The bulk of the seizures were DVDs that either had contents which was too graphic to be licensed or were pirate copies, whilst those working in the shops also face prosecution under the video recordings act.
According to the council the measures are "part of the council’s drive to clean up Soho, while still retaining its unique character", though many would argue that some of these measures directly detract from the character they claim to seek to preserve.
In 1999 Soho had 61 illegal sex shops. It now has jut 14, including the six for which the council has applied for closure orders, with the eventual aim to have no illegal sex establishments in operation by the end of next year in time for the Olympics.
Cllr Brian Connell, Westminster Council Cabinet Member for Business, Enterprise and Skills said: “We are keen to promote economic activity in Soho and are proud of it’s a success as a fantastic place to come for a great night out in central London. However we will not tolerate those establishments that act illegally and risk tarnishing the reputation of other licensed premises.
“We do not want to sanitise Soho and we are not seeking to ban all sex premises or lap dancing clubs but want them to act in a law abiding fashion.”
The clampdown is part of a key pledge made by the council to help rid Soho of it seedy reputation as part of its Living City programme and sees officers are also working to improve street lighting, seal up phone boxes that have become crack dens and remove recessed doorways.
I do find it odd that there is such a drive to rid Soho of the illegal establishments before the Olympics come to London - it almost feels like the council and the police are soon to be receiving a visit for Aunt and are frantically tidying the more unsavoury areas of their home.
It's also interesting to note, that there seems to be very little mention of how this collective hope to maintain their efforts in the future; what is there to prevent these illegal establishments returning after the Olympics have been and gone, along with the need for this frantic 'cleaning' operation?