Prostitutes no longer working streets

PROSTITUTES have stopped working the streets of Ipswich for the first time in decades.

Danielle Nuttall

PROSTITUTES have stopped working the streets of Ipswich for the first time in decades.

Police have confirmed there has not been a single sex worker spotted in the town for almost two months - a year after a strategy was launched to help vulnerable women off the streets.

And despite intensive police patrols, the last arrest for kerb crawling in the town was more than 70 days ago.

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Police chiefs said they were incredibly pleased with the success of the strategy but warned it was still too early to say it had been eradicated for good.

Superintendent Alan Caton, operations manager for Ipswich, said: “We've had no reports of kerb crawling or prostitution for some weeks now. It's the first time no women have been working for a significant period of time.

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“Prostitution in Ipswich has been a problem for many decades. I have been working in Ipswich for 25 years and this is the most successful strategy I can ever remember.

“It's not to say it couldn't revert back again. We are continuously optimistic about what the strategy has achieved. However, we are aware that prostitution is fuelled by drug addiction, particularly street prostitution, and drug addiction is incredibly difficult to overcome.

“I think a lot of credit needs to go to the women who have put themselves in a position of getting out of street prostitution and going through all the programmes to help them get out of those drug habits.

“We must realise people do lapse. It's a very chaotic lifestyle and the need to take drugs makes people behave in ways they wouldn't otherwise do.

“I'm always conscious that tomorrow four or five individuals may lapse from their drug treatment and could be back on the streets. We really have to be on the ball with this.”

The Ipswich Street Prostitution Strategy was launched in March last year in response to the murders of Tania Nicol, 19, Gemma Adams, 25, Anneli Alderton, 24, Paula Clennell, 24, and Annette Nicholls, 29.

The bodies of the women were all found around Ipswich in December 2006.

Forklift truck driver Steve Wright, 50, of London Road, Ipswich was jailed for the rest of his life in February after being convicted of all five murders.

The strategy aims to effectively eradicate the sex trade from the streets of Ipswich over a five-year period by providing increased support to sex workers and drug addicts to prevent them from working and prosecuting anyone caught kerb-crawling.

Police said a total of 137 kerb-crawlers have been arrested to date - but none since March 28.

“We've not had any arrests for some weeks despite intensive policing activity. The message is beginning to get out there to the men who come to Ipswich and kerb crawl,” said Supt Caton.

“The multi agency team is working really hard to provide support to the women who are the most vulnerable to help them develop a route out of street prostitution.

“There's a lot of work going on with partner agencies around prevention, including looking at the school curriculum and trying to get the message out within schools.

“It's about trying to identify individuals who are particularly at risk of entering into a life of prostitution.

“The local council has worked incredibly hard in improving the environment where this sort of activity went on.”

Supt Caton added: “There may well be issues around displacement and we acknowledged that as a risk in our strategy. However our evidence is that these women are not engaging in other towns. Our evidence is that these women are not moving to off street premises to engage in street prostitution.

“While I'm incredibly pleased with the success I'm not complacent. I'm certainly not saying we have eradicated street prostitution yet.”

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