Cash to tackle prostitution problem

COUNCIL chiefs are being asked to agree to a plan to contribute £400,000 over the next two years to a new task force aiming to rid Ipswich's streets of prostitution.

By Danielle Nuttall

COUNCIL chiefs are being asked to agree to a plan to contribute £400,000 over the next two years to a new task force aiming to rid Ipswich's streets of prostitution.

A detailed strategy involving a number of agencies was launched on Wednesday with the aim of helping the town's sex workers overcome drug additions and stop them working the streets.

The action plan comes in the wake of the red-light killings and contains a raft of measures, including extra CCTV and a major police crackdown on kerb-crawling.


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Suffolk County Council's cabinet will meet on April 3 to decide whether to approve financial backing to the initiative amounting to £400,000 over two years.

Other costs of the scheme were revealed for the first time yesterday.

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The cost of a crackdown on kerb-crawlers, high visibility police patrols and other policing costs have been estimated at £260,000.

Ipswich Borough Council, meanwhile, will spend £300,000 on changes to the red-light district, such as improvements to lighting and installing gates at alleyways, while cameras to detect kerb crawlers and improve security is expected to cost a further £65,000.

Last night Joanna Spicer, portfolio holder for public protection, said the council could afford the financial commitment as the cash would come from its contingency fund.

“We have contingency funds for dealing with unexpected crises and developments and this is what it is.

“It's important every partner does their bit. My view is if we haven't made considerable progress in two years it's not working. There has to have a high degree of urgency to make this work.

“We cannot drift along. I'm really confident but everybody has to work hard with real urgency.

“If we don't take this window of opportunity created by the shock of the murders, we will lose that opportunity.”

The authorities behind the strategy, first revealed in the EADT last week, include police, councils and prostitution and drug experts.

But the move has sparked some concern. Andrew Dotchin, reverend of Whitton Church, who has spoken nationally about the red-light killings, said yesterday he was concerned that the town's new prostitution strategy could see the problem on the streets moved into other areas and could criminalise women who are already victims.

He said: “If we end up with a system that is all stick and not much carrot then we will see the trade being driven underground and women put into threatening and dangerous circumstances.”

The bodies of Gemma Adams, 25, Tania Nicol, 19, Anneli Alderton, 24, Paula Clennell, 24, and Annette Nicholls, 29, were found in rural locations outside Ipswich between December 2 and December 12 last year. All had worked in Ipswich's red-light district.

Steve Wright, 48, of London Road, Ipswich, has been charged with murdering the five women and will appear in court again on May 1.

danielle.nuttall@eadt.co.uk

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