Prostitute strategy hailed a success

IPSWICH'S prostitution strategy has been hailed as a success by university researchers today.

IPSWICH'S prostitution strategy has been hailed as a success by university researchers today.

Academics from the University of East Anglia (UEA) looked at Ipswich's attempts to get sex-workers off the streets of the town.

Their report, evaluating the first year of the strategy's implementation, found evidence of early success, but added there were big challenges ahead.

Dr Fiona Poland, the UEA sociologist leading the multi-disciplinary team, said: "The formation of a new multi-agency team, known as the Street Free team, has been a key element of the work to support women in changing their lives and moving out of on-street sex work.

“Social workers, support workers, police and probation officers work directly with the women, and in liaison with staff from voluntary and statutory housing and health services and drug treatment agencies, to intervene to meet the particular needs of each individual.

“Putting it into practice has demanded a high level of commitment and personal effort from many agencies, professional and community groups.

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“This has been rewarded by success in a number of key areas in these early stages. Ipswich police patrols have not seen any kerb crawler activity since spring 2008 and local residents report that they no longer see women involved in sex work on the streets."

The evaluation was commissioned to give the Joint Agency Prostitution Steering group information about how well the strategy was put into action and its effects in its first year.

The new strategy led to 137 arrests for kerb-crawling in Ipswich between March 2007 and February 2008, compared with only ten in the previous year.

Dr Poland added: "It is also now vital to prioritise the needs of vulnerable younger people who may be at risk of being drawn in to street-working if they are homeless, addicted, or generally lacking support systems.

"Finding safe accommodation for vulnerable young people who are no longer able to stay at home with their families remains a particular challenge within the region.”

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