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LAMBETH: Mum bashed by hookers pleads for vice squad return
8:55am Wednesday 6th August 2008 in News
A mum who was hospitalised after a horrific, unprovoked attack by six prostitutes in Streatham has joined residents and politicians calling for the reinstatement of Lambeth Police's vice squad.
Marisa Mann, 49, was left bloody and bruised when kicked and beaten outside her Garrad's Road home 10 years ago at the height of the area's prostitution nightmare.
The vice squad - set up as a result of the brutal attack on Mrs Mann - was disbanded by Lambeth Police in May because of pressure on resources.
But residents in Garrad's Road and the surrounding area have since reported an upsurge in kerbcrawling and prostitution.
Mrs Mann said: "We can't go back to how it was - it was like living in hell.
"We were too scared to go out at night - people were assaulted regularly. My husband had a whiskey bottle smashed over his head."
Residents say in recent years, prostitute activity has been mainly opposite their homes on Tooting Bec Common.
But since the resurgence, women have again started selling their wares on the pavement.
"They used to stand in our driveways looking for business, use the space as a toilet, throw syringes and condoms in the garden and abuse us as we came and went," said Mrs Mann.
"Me and my husband still garden with protective gloves on because we are scared of catching ourselves with a needle."
Residents are determined the police should not loosen their control of the problem any further.
Safety fears have also been sparked by rumours CCTV in Garrad's Road may be reduced as a result of a council review later this year.
The current strategy of policing the problem with safer neighbourhood teams has been criticised because they lack the vice squad's expertise with dealing with prostitutes.
They also patrol predominantly during the day when the problem is not as bad.
Lib Dem parliamentary spokesman Chris Nicholson said the recent high profile mounted police operations in Tooting Bec Common had made good headlines but were not the answer.
He said: "Consistent long term police work through a vice squad and safer neighbourhood teams, and working with prostitutes who are victims themselves to help them out of prostitution, is a much more effective approach."
A spokesman for Streatham MP Keith Hill said he would bring up the problem in a meeting with Lambeth's top cop, borough commander Sharon Rowe.
St Leonard's ward councillor Brian Palmer said the upsurge in prostitution would impact negatively on attempts to improve the image of Streatham High Road at a critical point in the economic cycle.
A police spokeswoman said the police were dedicated to reducing all crime in Lambeth.
She said: "Safer neighbourhoods teams are in place to deal with local issues in partnership with agencies as they have the knowledge of the area. Officers from the vice squad have been reinvested into safer neighbourhood teams which allows them to continue assisting the community with local issues."
- Should the vice squad be reinstated? Let us know in the comments section below.