PROSTITUTES are expected to flood south Essex during the 2012 Olympics, a Rape charity has warned.

With the opening ceremony of the Games now less than two years away, experts at the South Essex Rape and Crisis Centre have already begun investigating what can be done to discourage an influx of prostitutes and protect women from being trafficked into the area.

Hundreds of athletes and spectators are expected to descend on the county to train and stay for the duration of the Games.

Sheila Coates, director of the centre, based in Thurrock, said: “Research has shown that during large sporting events, sex crime actually increases because of the large number of participants and a lot of people travelling from country to country. Sadly, pimps see that as a way of increasing their income and we will see women trafficked to the area.”

The centre, which covers the areas of Thurrock, Basildon and Brentwood, has asked for the issue to be put on the agenda at forthcoming meetings of the Thurrock Violence Against Women and Girls Strategic Group and the Basildon Violent Crime, Domestic Crime and Sexual Crime Group.

As well as representatives from the centre, the groups are made up of officers from Basildon and Thurrock Councils and Essex Police.

Ms Coates added: “The centre is preparing to research the possible impact and take the necessary steps to mitigate the impact of any increase in sex trafficking and prostitution in the area.

“We are going to start looking at research available from the winter Olympics in Canada and the World Cup in South Africa to see what the impact may or may not be.

“In Vancouver it looks like it wasn’t as big a problem as anticipated because they planned for it and planned it out.”

A spokeswoman for Essex Police said the force had not been made aware of any expected problems.