A senior police officer claims that there are more fake prostitutes and drug dealers than real ones on the streets of Soho in London's West End. Soho was once known as a notorious area for its sex shops, but now while there are still some prostitutes who work inside some premises, the ones on the streets are almost all fake operators.
Det Chief Supt Andy Rowell says that the area has been cleaned-up by the police, but now the danger comes from con artists targeting gullible foreign tourists and out-of-town visitors.
The fake drug dealers pass off boot polish or liquorice as cannabis, and wax wrapped in foil as crack cocaine and aspirin pills, with the markings rubbed off on the side of a matchbox, as tablets.
Where the fake prostitutes are concerned, around 15 of them work together by taking a "deposit for a room" then disappearing, or luring a punter into an alleyway where a male accomplice will relieve them of their cash.
"A lot of visitors are thinking in the past, and these days Soho has been cleaned-up," the Telegraph quoted Rowell, who is the detective in charge of the area, as saying.
"Yet hundreds of visitors from out of London come to Soho after the theatres have emptied looking for illegal after-hours activities.
"Their image of Soho is sadly out-of-date. We are continuing to step up our efforts at clamping down on these types of crime and we've largely succeeded.
"Soho is now a safe place to come and enjoy yourself - but please don't come looking for drugs and prostitutes. You will almost certainly get something you didn't expect," he added.