Ipswich: Town’s nationally-recognised prostitution strategy save 222 teenagers from the sex trade
More than 220 teenagers identified as being at risk of slipping into the dangerous world of the sex trade have had their lives rescued since the launch of Ipswich’s prostitution strategy.
Since the scheme began six years ago, street prostitution and kerb crawling has been eradicated from the town thanks to joint partnership work.
However off-street prostitution and sexual exploitation remains an issue, according to police.
The strategy, which has received national acclaim, was launched in the wake of the murders of five sex workers in Ipswich by Steve Wright in 2006.
The Make A Change team, which is made up of multiple agencies and works with vulnerable adults and young people, has provided support to 222 young people at risk of exploitation since it was set up in 2007.
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They are currently helping 27 teenagers who are in danger of entering the sex trade.
They have also worked with 196 adults who were leading chaotic lifestyles, and now the majority are living independently free from violence.
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Following the team’s focused work with teenagers, many have gone on to reconnect with families or education, including one young person who re-enrolled at school and achieved several high GCSE passes.
Among the adults the team has helped includes a woman who has now applied to study at university, one who is well under way with an apprenticeship, another who is now completely debt free and a mother whose child has been returned to her care.
Alan Murray, Suffolk County Council’s cabinet member for health and adult care, said: “Suffolk is now at the forefront when it comes to tackling sexual exploitation.
“Our Make a Change team now receives many requests for advice from other local authorities each week, which we give willingly.
“On street prostitution has been stopped in Ipswich and we’re now working county-wide providing direct support and advice to women and young people at risk of exploitation.
“I doubt very much that we will ever be totally rid of the problem of prostitution in Suffolk, but we can maintain the momentum that has already been set in tackling it and protecting as many vulnerable people as possible.”