Westminster Council enlists CPS in fight against 'carders'

THE CROWN Prosecution Service is to be pressed to join a court offensive against gangs which control prostitutes' advertising on cards placed in telephone boxes.

Westminster Council will urge the CPS to follow its initiative using planning legislation against the “carders”.

The move follows a warning that the council may have to curtail the number of prosecutions brought per week because of a cash shortage.

Lawyers at the council have successfully prosecuted 26 offenders for depositing the cards in telephone boxes around vice districts of central London such as Soho and Paddington.

Chief solicitor Colin Wilson has used the anti-fly posting provisions of the Town and Country Planning (Control of Advertisements) Regulations 1992 against offenders.

Now the authority is to write to the CPS, encouraging it to use the same legislation. It is also seeking a government grant to offset the £600 cost of each prosecution.

The new attempt to clean up vice was revealed in a report to the council's environment sub-committee last week. It said there were 57 cases to be dealt with before the end of the year.

But, the report warned the council may have to cut its prosecutions from 10 per week to as few as three per month unless more funding is provided.

Leith Penny, client director (street environment) at Westminster, said initially both the council and the CPS had used the Environmental Protection Act to tackle carders.

The council switched to the Town Planning regulations when an EPA prosecution was challenged in the courts in a case still to be heard.

A CPS spokesman said: “We already prosecute, where appropriate, cases drawn to our attention and we will continue to look at cases referred to us.”

Law Commission chair Mr Justice Brooke opened the new office of Anthony Gold, Lerman & Muirhead in London. The firm combines a commercial service as well as practising legal aid work.

Brooke (seen here with senior partner Anthony Gold), who as a practising barrister had represented nearly 200 clients of the firm in the past, said: “I am very pleased that despite the tremendous growth in the firm and the firm's commercial work, they have retained a commitment to legal aid clients.”