Prostitution group shortlisted for award

MORE than 30 women have escaped prostitution since a help group was set up in the wake of the Suffolk murders two years ago, it was revealed today.

MORE than 30 women have escaped prostitution since a help group was set up in the wake of the Suffolk murders two years ago, it was revealed today.

Now the Joint Agency Prostitution Strategy Group, which seeks to improve the health and well-being of Ipswich's sex workers, has been shortlisted for a prestigious local government award.

Since the group launched shortly after the tragic murders of five young women at the hands of Steve Wright in December 2006, 33 women have escaped prostitution, 25 women have been supported for their drink and drug issues and 138 kerb crawlers have been arrested.

The team, which is made up of representatives from Ipswich Borough Council, Suffolk Police, Suffolk County Council, Suffolk Primary Care Trust, Suffolk Probation Area, Suffolk Mental Health Partnership, Suffolk Drug and Alcohol Action Team and voluntary organisations, has been recognised by the Local Government Chronicle. The group has been shortlisted in the Health and Well-Being category and the winners will be announced on March 25, 2009.

The work they do includes providing assistance for the women to exit prostitution, including help with housing, dealing with domestic violence, treatment for drink and drug issues, and support to register with GPs and keep health appointments. Four women have also been given a full set of dentures which has improved their self-esteem.

Detective superintendent Tim Beach, of Suffolk Constabulary, who chairs the group, said: “We are delighted to have been shortlisted for this award. We have made considerable progress in tackling the issue of prostitution in Ipswich, thanks to the support of the local community and all the partners involved in the strategy group. The recognition of this work by the Local Government Chronicle is proof that we really are making a difference to the women and the community affected by this issue.”

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Suffolk County Council's councillor for public protection Joanna Spicer said: “There has been a considerable new investment in this work which has helped to improve things for some of the most vulnerable women who have been on the fringes of society, and for the community they have been operating in.”

Do you think the problem of prostitution has disappeared from the town? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN, or e-mail eveningstarletters@eveningstar.co.uk.