This subject has been on our agenda for more than 15 years and always comes up at our AGM – which will take place in April as usual – (date to be confirmed). However these past two years since May 2014 South Kensington & Queen’s Gate Residents Association, together with some very active local residents and interested local groups have joined together to really put pressure on the Council and their policing team to help us in the quest to clean up these BT Boxes.
The Council Officers, led by Mr Stuart Priestley, Megan Field and Councillor Mathew Palmer have devoted their energy and above all their teams towards resolving this ugly and unwanted addition to our streets. Not only are these telephone boxes smelly and dirty, they also contain explicit sexual photographs that are both degrading and obscene that can be clearly seen by any passing young person or child. In the south Kensington area alone, 4,000 school children pass these boxes daily.
Over the past 18 months, the 45 dedicated police officers engaged by the RBKC and part funded by the Mayor of London, under the direction of Inspector Chris Downs have made a very concerted effort to eliminate the carders and their cards from a selected area of telephone boxes around South Kensington and Gloucester Road with some very remarkable improvements. The first purge was December 2015,
The officers first policed the areas selected very thoroughly, and those residents (including several of our team) were directed not to collect the cards any more but to leave them to be collected by a company and the police and evaluated by their teams. The result was very noticeable for the good, showing fewer cards and more arrests. By March of last year the following was reported:
A five year Criminal Behaviour Order (CBO) which runs until 14 March 2021
Costs totalling £350
200 hours community service
And so it has continued. The number of cards has gone down from 50+ in a box to less than 15 and the arrests, fines and CBO’s have been sought and won in Court.
The teams of police and the company collecting the cards are still purging the boxes as before, and although the teams of carders are more organised these days, the added “frosting” to the boxes has made another significant difference and so too has the Council’s notice to “say No to explicit Sex cards in telephone boxes” signage.
The very best news is also on the way – and that is the removal of the many BT boxes around the Borough which will be replaced by a single totem design that has WiFi, internet, charging facilities and other useful services and which cannot have cards added to its exterior. Hopefully, there will be a great deal fewer needed – replacing the shabby BT boxes – although the K6 red heritage boxes will remain as these are rather special.
It has taken some time from that massive delivery of those 36 mail bags to Mr Livingstone offices at the GLC some 12 years ago. Today, we are seeing a new approach from BT to this problem. By simply frosting the existing boxes, solves part of the problem by obscuring the cards. But we do hold out hope that by completely rethinking the communication service which customers with mobile telephones really need – simply eliminates the need for boxes and thereby the sex card trade completely from our streets.