New crackdown on sex workers

SEX workers who have persistently flouted police attempts to get them off the streets and out of harm's way today face being arrested and hauled before the courts.

SEX workers who have persistently flouted police attempts to get them off the streets and out of harm's way today face being arrested and hauled before the courts.

Suffolk police has revealed its amnesty for street prostitutes has ended - with a new tough approach being introduced.

The force says a “hardcore” group of three to four women is consistently refusing to engage with authorities and is responsible for “anti-social and unlawful” behaviour. They will now face similar action to that which has been directed at kerb crawlers.

The move has the support of residents of the area around London Road, Portman Road, Dalton Road and Handford Road, which have been worst affected by the problem of street prostitution.

Suffolk police says the decision to arrest sex workers who refuse help marks a new phase of its highly successful Operation Impression, which was born out of the new Ipswich Street Prostitution Strategy.

The first phase represented a war on the men who created a demand for the sleazy sex trade, with 132 kerb crawlers arrested so far.

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Those efforts will continue but officers will now be instructed to arrest women who are repeatedly seen touting for clients.

A Suffolk police spokeswoman said: “Operation Impression was set up in March 2007 following the introduction of the revised prostitution strategy.

“The aim of Operation Impression is to tackle the demand on prostitutes by targeting the kerb crawlers in Ipswich.

“Since the implementation of the strategy, tremendous successes have been achieved.

“The support provided to the women has been outstanding and many are now off the streets. Early indications are that kerb crawling activity has reduced dramatically.

“There is however a hard-core of three or four women who continually persist to work on the streets. Their behaviour is anti-social and unlawful.”

About 18 women have accepted offers of help since the introduction of the Street Prostitution Strategy early last year. They have introduced to drug treatment programmes, given housing support and access to health services.

They represent the majority of women who had worked the streets in the aftermath of the murders of five sex workers committed by serial killer Steve Wright between the end of October and December 2006.

Louise Heath, 29, of Samuel Court, Ipswich, was arrested at 10.43pm on Thursday and later charged with soliciting. She was due to appear at South East Suffolk Magistrates' Court today.

Do you support the move to a tougher approach to get sex workers off the streets? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN, or e-mail eveningstarletters@eveningstar.co.uk

RESIDENTS in London Road today welcomed Suffolk police's new get-tough approach to women who refuse to stop working the streets.

Ron Alder, chairman of the London Road Neighbourhood Watch, said: “We're very, very pleased with all the responses. You wouldn't believe London Road now.

“As soon as the cameras went up and as soon as the first ones (kerb crawlers) were nicked it started to slow down straight away.

“We continue to try to regenerate this road.

“One particular girl is persistent but that's up to the police. If we see one we're bound to report it.”

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