Vice dens closed in crackdown

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 25 January, 2007, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 25 January, 2007, 12:00am

Prostitution under control, police say

Police in Mong Kok continued a crackdown on brothels yesterday while assuring the public the vice industry was under control.

Executing court closure orders, officers shut three vice dens in Nullah Street and Reclamation Street. They also dismantled 75 billboards advertising sex in the district. The police have carried out 10 closure orders this month while preparing to execute 10 more. Last year 61 closure orders were executed.

'One of our main tactics is to apply for closure orders from the court,' said Senior Inspector Tyrol Yau Kin-hung. 'The number of vice units has dropped significantly and the situation is well under control.'

The three flats were found to have been used many times in the past for prostitution.

Senior Inspector Yau estimated there were less than 160 brothels in Mong Kok compared with more than 300 a few years ago.

Any flat twice found to be accommodating prostitutes in 16 months is subject to a closure order. It then has to be shut for six months and must be left vacant.

'It is often costly to renovate a property for prostitution use, so some owners risk being caught for the second time,' Senior Inspector Yau said.

Sex billboards have mushroomed in the district despite repeated crackdowns. More than 6,300 signs were taken down last year.

Some Mong Kok residents welcomed the crackdown while expressing doubts about its effectiveness.

'The district has been infamous for the sex trade for many years,' said 70-year-old Cheung Koon-sang, who has lived in Mong Kok for five decades.

'It will take harder and longer-term efforts to eradicate vice.'

Mr Cheung said he was worried about the impact of sex billboards on teenagers.

'These signboards may mean a lot more temptation for young people,' he said.