Page last updated at 23:14 GMT, Monday, 17 August 2009 00:14 UK

Sex card challenge to phone firms

Prostitute calling cards in a London phone box
Placing prostitute calling cards in phone boxes is a criminal offence

Major mobile phone companies are being urged to help cut the number of prostitutes working in London.

Kit Malthouse, London's deputy mayor for policing, wants the numbers on sex calling cards found in telephone boxes blocked as soon as they are identified.

He said mobile phone numbers were valuable to those behind the sex industry and should be cut off.

The deputy mayor has invited Vodafone, Orange, O2, 3, Virgin and T-Mobile to meet him.

Mr Malthouse said: "If you are an American tourist and if you walk into a telephone box you would think it was a sex shop.

"We want a streamlined, agreed process for barring these numbers because they become very valuable for a number of reasons.

'Repeat business'

"Firstly, they become a source of repeat business. Plus the numbers operate as a kind of switchboard, there will be several poor girls operating behind the number.

"Hopefully it will become dangerous to advertise your number in these boxes because you may lose your business.

"If you are a trafficker or pimp all you are interested in is money, you are certainly not interested in the welfare of the women or young girls."

Chief executives of all the major mobile operators have been invited to a meeting at City Hall in October.

Mr Malthouse has campaigned to ban sex service calling cards since 2000 when he worked as a councillor in Westminster.

At one point, campaigners stood in Oxford Street handing out calling cards printed with details of mobile phone company bosses.

Placing prostitute calling cards in phone boxes is an offence but those leaving cards have to be caught in the act, making the crime difficult to police.

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