The Mayor’s office in London is asking phone companies to block the mobile numbers of prostitutes advertising in public phone boxes.
The move is part of a drive to cut human trafficking in the UK before the 2012 London Olympics.
Kit Malthouse, London’s Deputy Mayor for Policing, wants companies such as O2 and Vodafone to work with the Metropolitan Police and the Mayor’s office to deprive pimps and traffickers of income.
Thousands of girls and women are currently forced to work as prostitutes in the UK, often after being lured from homes overseas with promises of legitimate employment.
Research has shown that human trafficking in Athens doubled in the run up to the 2004 Olympic Games but did not go down again afterwards.
Mr Malthouse said: “In 2012 we want to be proud of our city as a glittering example to the world. But we need the mobile phone operators to show their commitment to fighting the abuse of women and help us.
“We want companies like Vodafone, Orange, O2, 3, Virgin and T-Mobile to make it difficult for the pimps and traffickers who advertise their mobile numbers on these cards to do business by barring them.”
He added: “Nothing is more important to a pimp or trafficker than money.”
An estimate from 2008 suggested that up to 18,000 females, including girls as young as 14, have been trafficked into UK brothels to meet the rising demand for prostitutes.
Parliament is currently considering legislation which would criminalise anyone paying for sex with a prostitute who is being exploited by someone else, whether or not he knows about her situation.
The Government hopes its proposal will help cut the demand for prostitution and so stem the tide of women and girls trafficked into the UK to be forced into the sex trade.
More than half of UK prostitutes have been raped or suffered indecent assault and three quarters have experienced physical violence.
Over half the prostitutes involved in one study said that they had feared for their lives at least once.
An international study found that 68 per cent of prostitutes met the criteria for Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, with symptoms as severe as victims of torture.
Nine in ten prostitutes wanted to escape prostitution but felt unable to do so.
Drug abuse is also an almost universal problem amongst prostitutes. Statistics from the ‘Crime and Disorder associated with Prostitution Initiative’ showed that 93 per cent of prostitutes were using non-prescribed drugs, including 88 per cent using heroin.