Ipswich left out of kerb crawling scheme

IPSWICH has been shunned by a government initiative launched to target kerb-crawlers and clamp down on street prostitution. The Home Office is funding a campaign in seven towns and cities featuring radio adverts warning kerb-crawlers they could face arrest, a court appearance, a £1,000 fine and a driving ban, as well as bringing shame to family, friends and employers.

IPSWICH has been shunned by a government initiative launched to target kerb-crawlers and clamp down on street prostitution.

The Home Office is funding a campaign in seven towns and cities featuring radio adverts warning kerb-crawlers they could face arrest, a court appearance, a £1,000 fine and a driving ban, as well as bringing shame to family, friends and employers.

The six week campaign will be launched this week in London, Middlesbrough, Peterborough, Southampton, Bristol, Bournemouth and Leeds.

But Ipswich, which was thrust into the spotlight when five sex workers were killed last year, has failed to make the list.

Ipswich Borough Council and Suffolk police have already launched their own strategy to address the issue of prostitution in the town, including tough measures against kerb crawlers.

Thanks to the strategy, two men have already been hauled before the courts since its launch in March and almost 30 others arrested.

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But a spokeswoman for the English Collective of Prostitutes, which is calling for the decriminalisation of prostitution, criticised the measures and the Home Office scheme and said: “We have seen the impact of draconian crackdowns like this in Ipswich, where women have been driven further underground into unfamiliar, less well-lit areas where they are more vulnerable to attack.

“How can the police justify a policy on prostitution which says nothing about women's safety, which is what public opinion has said time and time again should be the absolute priority, and a policy which says nothing about the homelessness, poverty and debt that even the government has acknowledged are the fundamental issues that drive women into prostitution?”

But an Ipswich council spokesman said, despite not being included in the Home Office project, Ipswich had sufficient plans in place to tackle kerb crawlers.

He said: “We have launched our own strategy with our partners and that has made clear the position we are taking to target kerb crawlers. Ipswich's strategy pioneered a new zero tolerance way of dealing with the problem and has been well received by the local community and beyond.”

Do you think Ipswich should have more help from the Home Office to tackle kerb crawling? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN, or e-mail eveningstarletters@eveningstar.co.uk.

HOME Office officials today defended the decision not to include Ipswich on the list of towns and cities taking part in its new kerb crawling crackdown.

A spokeswoman said: “Since the tragic events in Ipswich in December, we have been working with the Ipswich prostitution steering group to support them in the development of their new local strategy.

“Following discussions with local partners, and in light of the considerable additional pressures placed on local agencies as a result of the investigation and associated media attention, a joint decision was taken not to include the town as one of the initial sites.

“We recognise that Suffolk Constabulary have made considerable efforts in recent months to target enforcement and we have ensured the local police have access to the all the campaign materials.”

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