Row over funding to beat prostitution
A ROW has broken out today over a decision to commit a further £230,000 to Ipswich's battle to remove street prostitution from the town.Suffolk County Council's cabinet rubber-stamped the move to use £61,400 from its contingency/reserves fund in the next year and a further £169,000 in 2008/2009 to help fund a new multi-agency team yesterday.
A ROW has broken out today over a decision to commit a further £230,000 to Ipswich's battle to remove street prostitution from the town.
Suffolk County Council's cabinet rubber-stamped the move to use £61,400 from its contingency/reserves fund in the next year and a further £169,000 in 2008/2009 to help fund a new multi-agency team yesterday.
The team will coordinate measures to help sex workers leave their life on the streets and bring together the agencies which are currently helping to implement Ipswich's street prostitution strategy.
Police and the county council today insisted the team was crucial to ensuring that a coordinated approach is made toward engaging with the women but one former sex worker who sits on the town's prostitution strategy implementation group criticised the way the money was being spent.
The woman, who worked on the streets as Charlotte, said existing organisations which help sex workers deal with their drug addictions, like Ipswich's Fore Street-based Iceni Project and the Community Drug Team, could make better use of the money.
She said: “We already have social services in Ipswich, we already have a drug agency with support workers. The money could have been given to Iceni for them to have another support worker.
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“They don't need to have this group. It's too many groups trying to aim for the same thing.”
After agreeing the funding yesterday, the county council will now recruit five full time and two part time staff for the team.
Joanna Spicer, the county councillor with responsibility for public protection, said: “The whole point of the strategy is to get different departments and organisations to concentrate their efforts.
“We had a prostitution multi-agency group working before, what they weren't really able to do was to be a cohesive team.”
Since the strategy was launched in April in the aftermath of the killing of five Ipswich sex workers last year, Suffolk police have arrested more than 100 men and the number of women working on the streets has been reduced to a core group of five or six.
Chief Superintendent Tim Beach, from Suffolk Police, said the funding for the new group was just part of the extra money being spent on tackling the problem of street prostitution.
He said: “While we all did bits and pieces around this and have done for years it was not coordinated and it was not sustained.
“I wouldn't have tried to convince people to spend money if I didn't think it was necessary.”