Ipswich vicar to speak in Commons

AN IPSWICH vicar was due to speak at the parliamentary launch of a nationwide initiative to decriminalise prostitution today.Reverend Andrew Dotchin, the vicar at St Mary and St Botolph Church in Whitton Church Lane, was due to give a speech entitled Caring For All In Ipswich at the launch of Safety First Coalition at the House of Commons.

AN IPSWICH vicar was due to speak at the parliamentary launch of a nationwide initiative to decriminalise prostitution today.

Reverend Andrew Dotchin, the vicar at St Mary and St Botolph Church in Whitton Church Lane, was due to give a speech entitled Caring For All In Ipswich at the launch of Safety First Coalition at the House of Commons.

The coalition, which was initiated and co-ordinated by the English Collective of Prostitutes, is designed to decriminalise sex work, prioritise safety and look at viable alternatives for women who want to leave prostitution.

It was formed following the murders of five sex workers in Ipswich in December last year. The bodies of Gemma Adams, 24, Tania Nicol, 19, Anneli Alderton, 24, Paula Clennell, 24 and Annette Nicholls, 29, were discovered in rural locations around Ipswich with ten days of each other.

Rev Dotchin said: “Our experience has taught us that we must not treat prostitutes as pariahs. The idea is that this is a multi-agency approach.

“It is more about getting vice off the streets-it is about tackling the problem. If we are careful we can really change these damaged lives and something good can come out of this.

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“Ipswich showed a different response to what happened and this is something the rest of the country could learn from. Ipswich is leading the way.”

AN ECP spokeswoman said: “The tragic murders of five young women in Ipswich caused an unprecedented outcry. Value judgements over the way women live their lives must never again be an excuse to deny protection. Everyone deserves to be safe regardless of their occupation, sexual preference, race, age, nationality or lifestyle.”

The launch was jointly hosted by MP John McDonnell, a long-term supporter of the ECP's work and Baroness Vivien Stern, former chair of the National Association for the Care and Resettlement of Offenders. Others who were due to speak included Kathy French, a sexual health advisor, Royal College of Nursing and John Furniss from the Multiple Choice Rehabilitation Centre.

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