Mobile networks called to City Hall


The mobile networks are to attend a meeting in October with London City Hall to discuss the potential to ban phone numbers used by sex workers.

Deputy Mayor Kit Malthouse has called on the networks crack down on phone numbers used by prostitutes that advertise their services on cards containing mobile numbers that are then placed in phone boxes.

Mayor of London Boris Johnson wants to see an agreement reached between mobile phone operators and the police that would see these numbers taken out of use as soon as they are identified. The goal is to cut off a key source of income for crime gangs.

City Hall claims that major sporting events are often linked to an upsurge in demand for prostitution and fuels human trafficking, so it is therefore looking to target this before the London 2012 Olympics.

Said Malthouse: “We need the mobile phone operators to show their commitment to fighting the abuse of women and help us. We want companies like Vodafone, Orange, O2, 3, Virgin and T-Mobile to make it difficult for the pimps and traffickers who advertise their mobile numbers on these cards to do business by barring them.”

Chief executives from the mobile networks have been invited to a meeting at City Hall in October alongside key members from the Metropolitan Police Service, Crown Prosecution Service, BT and women’s organisations.

An O2 spokesperson said: “O2 would be happy to have a conversation with the mayor to discuss this issue.”

A Vodafone spokesperson said: “Once the meeting takes place we will have a better picture then of what the mayor’s office is expecting the mobile industry to do.”

Ofcom said it would not intervene as how phone numbers were used was up to communications providers unless there were numerous complaints, such as in the case of misselling.

Malthouse previously ran a campaign through Westminster Council to have escort cards banned from phone boxes in the borough.  BT agreed to remove cards from their phone boxes as part of the campaign and continues to work with the Metropolitan Police to ban landline numbers that are identified as being used for prostitution.