Prostitutes call cards are not harmless titillation or merely an eyesore. There are clear links between the cards and illegal activity.
All of the mobile phone companies are refusing to call bar the numbers used on prostitute cards, hiding behind a whole series of fig leaf excuses.
In 2001 BT introduced their Targeted Recording and Processing (TRAP) call barring system. Initially BT numbers featured on 98 per cent of the cards, it is now only 5 per cent. To date, BT have had no complaints or challenges against the action they have taken.
Westminster City Council will be distributing the name and numbers of the mobile company chief executives so residents, businesses and charities can make their views on prostitute cards known.
Kit Malthouse, deputy leader of Westminster City Council, said:
'Mobile phone company chief executives must take personal responsibility for the fact prostitute cards contain numbers that their companies provide.
'Corporate responsibility means action, not just token gestures. Prostitute cards have a clear link to crime yet the companies keep coming up with reasons not to bar the calls.
'We are appealing to the companies to help us to fight illegal activity voluntarily before we seek legislation from Parliament to force them to act.'
Westminster City Council and the Metropolitan Police have carried out three operations against carders in Westminster:
Operation Playa - July 2003
Carders arrested - 24
Juveniles taken to safety - 2
Brothels visited - 52
Operation Penpelliant - February 2004
Carders arrested - 21
Brothels visited - 16
Information passed to the immigration service after these operations led to 23 illegal immigrants being deported.
An operation was also carried out last month and the results are still being analysed.
Westminster City Council estimate that 300-400 mobile phone numbers, spread over 100,000 cards, are displayed in central London phone boxes each month.
Legislation that makes it illegal to place cards has made little difference to the number of cards bing displayed. £250,000 is spent annually by BT removing an estimated 1.2 million cards from their telephone boxes.
Prostitute cards have been a problem in Westminster for 20 years. The presence of the cards in the telephone boxes has a negative effect on local communities by:
- Increasing the level of litter on our streets
- Displaying images that suggest the area is in decline.
- Offending people who want to use the phone boxes
- Damaging the appeal of the West End to visitors
- Increasing fear of crime, as violent crime and drug dealing are often associated with the sex industry.