Soho Vice Review: Illegal Sex Sells

September 23, 2009 by  
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Vice SquadCSOHO VICE: Thursday 24th September, FIVE, 9pm ALERT ME

Pornography: The sole reason for thousands of virus-ridden laptops all over the country.

Most men with Internet access or a modicum of common sense will not be surprised to learn that the British sex industry is growing rapidly online, but many will probably raise a few eyebrows when they see what actually happens on the streets of Soho.

Headed by Richard Martin, the Metropolitan Police’s Vice & Clubs Unit fights an ongoing battle against illegal brothels, kerb-crawlers and law-breaking sex shops, which fund and cause further crime.

TV is awash with real-life police propaganda and at first glance this programme could be mistaken for another tired addition to that saturated market. However unlike many of its predecessors, Soho Vice does not flatter to deceive and breaks original ground with an expose on the capital’s sex district.

In the opening scene we witness a wire-wearing officer go undercover to infiltrate an illegal ‘clip-joint’ (grottos where men are intimidated and robbed after being lured with the promise of cheap sex), but this is merely an introduction to a world that most people will be liberally unaware of.

For instance, did you know there are legal places called ‘walk-ups’ in London’s red-light district where lone prostitutes host visitors for paid sex?

Before you ask, I do not have any addresses for such venues – but believe me they exist and as you can imagine, they get as many visitors than most of London’s major tourist attractions.

To uphold balance, the unit is shown in some routine inspections of sex shops which abide by strict regulations, but as the documentary unfolds it becomes clear that the main problem for the police is that of prostitution.

By the time the programme closes with an alarming incident in which the officers pick-up two 14-year-old runaways drinking heavily and armed with a handbag full of condoms, the messages really are hitting home.

Intriguing stuff.

Sean Marland