Sex industry review announced

EXPERTS in tackling prostitution in Suffolk have been invited to share their knowledge with the Government during an inquiry into the sex industry, it has emerged.

Danielle Nuttall

EXPERTS in tackling prostitution in Suffolk have been invited to share their knowledge with the Government during an inquiry into the sex industry, it has emerged.

The Home Office has embarked on a six-month review looking at what more can be done to deal with the demand for prostitution in England and Wales.

The review will consider alternative approaches in other countries in a bid to identify possible new legislation.

The Home Office is planning to identify a pool of “external experts” from the police, academic institutions and voluntary organisations to act as advisors on the project - and has confirmed representatives from Suffolk will be invited to take part.

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

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

Forklift trucker Steve Wright, 49, 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.

Since it has been in place, more than 130 people have been arrested for kerb-crawling and the number of women working the streets has plummeted significantly.

The Home Office's Tackling Demand Review, which is being led by its Violent Crime Unit, will look at how current policy can be strengthened to ensure local areas can better tackle the demand for prostitution.

The review hopes to uncover information about the characteristics and demographics of those who buy sex, the context and settings for buying sex, the motivation for it, what deters those who procure sex -such as fear of prosecution, health-related issues and their families' finding out.

Suffolk Constabulary has already collected a wealth of knowledge in these areas since the launch of Operation Sumac, the codename given for the investigation into the murders of the five women, and has built up a profile of the 'kerb-crawler'.

It already sends warning letters to kerb crawlers regularly seen driving in the red-light area of the town, potentially highlighting their activities to their families.

A spokeswoman for the Home Office said: “At the moment, we have not decided who the external experts are going to be.

“Experts from the Ipswich and Suffolk area will be invited to ensure representation is made from across the UK.”

A decision on the panel of experts which will assist the Home Office is expected to be announced next month.

The Home Office has already commissioned an assessment of how various counties such as Sweden, Australia, New Zealand, Ireland, Finland and the Netherlands tackle the demand for prostitution.

All the findings of the review are expected to be published later this year.

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