A ‘sincere and complete apology’ has been issued to a 93-year-old woman from Southend who was wrongly arrested on charges of PROSTITUTION AND SOLICITING on Saturday evening.

In a statement, Police community liaison officer Nigel Trick admitted that the circumstances leading up to her arrest were a combination of ‘a number of factors’ and simply being in the ‘wrong place at the wrong time.’ He refused to comment on any potential financial settlement for the distress caused to both Mavis Slocombe and her family.

He said: ‘Ambleside Drive is a known red light district in Southend On Sea, and we have recently started cracking down on any sort of sex worker activity in this area. We patrol this section of the town on a regular basis to try and stop both sides of the problem – that is to say both the individuals working the streets and their potential clients who may or may not be using a vehicle for so-called ‘kerb crawling’ activities.’

‘At 8.45pm on Saturday evening, an elderly lady was spotted on the pavement of Ambleside Drive by a local officer next to a stationary car and it was clear that she was engaged in conversation with the driver. Under our new guidelines, this is an indication that further investigation is required into the potential for prostitution taking place, and as per our common operating procedure we placed Mrs Slocombe into the back of a patrol vehicle for further questioning.’

‘The driver had already driven off by this point, but provision was already in place to get his home address from the registration number and send a strongly-worded letter about the legalities of paying for sex.’

‘After a few minutes of questioning while she was technically under arrest, it emerged that she was in fact just returning to her sheltered housing flat after spending the day with her nephew who was driving the vehicle – the conversation through the window was about whether or not she had remembered to get any rich tea biscuits for the week ahead, and not about if she would be prepared to drop her knickers for a shiny £20.’

Steven Leer is in charge of the Southend Borough Vice Reduction Squad, and he told our Chief Reporter that aside from this incident the current crackdown has been a success.

He added: ‘Our message is a simple one. If you don’t want to be mistaken for a prostitute, don’t walk around the town centre looking really fit – we have found that this statutory generalised approach is giving us an excellent rate of success.’

‘This was never really an issue until the local university opened a few years ago, but now Southend has become a prime spot for unbelievably attractive female students from all over the UK. I saw a couple of sports science students from Cardiff the other day outside Talk Nightclub – f**k me!’