Sex trade still alive in Ipswich

PROSTITUTION remains a major problem in Ipswich.

PROSTITUTION remains a major problem in Ipswich.

While the crackdown on the town's sex trade which followed the murder of five women has eased the problem, it has not been solved entirely.

An Evening Star investigation has uncovered a sleazy website where sex punters can swap information and boast about their experiences with working girls in Ipswich.

“Reviews” containing explicit details about the services offered have even been posted in the days after Suffolk's joint-agency effort to tackle street prostitution was highlighting its success in helping women off the streets in the wake of the Steve Wright murders.

Today, a well-known church figure who has campaigned for more help for those trapped in prostitution in Ipswich, claimed the website was an indication the sex trade had not been eradicated.

Rev Andrew Dotchin, of St Mary and St Botolph church in the Whitton area of Ipswich, said while progress had been made, there remained much work to do to help drug-addicted young people out of their lives of prostitution in so-called massage parlours.

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“Just because there are no working girls standing on Portman Road or London Road doesn't men we have solved prostitution or that we have solved street prostitution,” he said.

“If we think because we've got CCTV and better lighting in London Road that we've solved the problem, then more fool us.”

In one account on the website, a “punter” named only as rh55 details his visit to “Claire of Ipswich” in a flat off Clarkson Street.

“Door answered straight away and shown into a clean comfortable bedroom,” he wrote, before recommending others visit.

Another, with the internet name Ruaraidth2, wrote: “Well known establishment up an alley with good safe car parking nearby. Have a policy of separating punters, so you will not meet your colleagues or neighbours.”

Mr Dotchin said he was intensely saddened by the way women were being treated as objects through the seedy online network of prostitute users.

He said: “It saddens me intensely. Human bodies are not for sale. Prostitution is an act of desperation.”

Suffolk police said today that it accepted there was still much work to be done to tackle Ipswich's prostitution problem despite the fact there it was now believed no women were working as street prostitutes in the town.

A spokesman said: “Work is continuing and work will continue. We are realistic this may not have gone away for good.”

Do you agree with Reverend Andrew Dotchin? Are you a working girl or former working girl? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN, or e-mail eveningstarletters@eveningstar.co.uk

IPSWICH'S prostitution strategy was hailed earlier this month when it was revealed sex workers were no longer touting for business in the town's red light district.

Police said there had not been a single prostitute in the town for almost two months - a year after the strategy had been launched to help vulnerable women off the streets.

And despite intensive police patrols, the last arrest for kerb crawling in the town was more than 70 days ago.

Police chiefs said they were incredibly pleased with the success of the strategy but warned it was still too early to say it had been eradicated for good.

Superintendent Alan Caton, operations manager for Ipswich, said: “We've had no reports of kerb crawling or prostitution for some weeks now. It's the first time no women have been working for a significant period of time.

“Prostitution in Ipswich has been a problem for many decades. I have been working in Ipswich for 25 years and this is the most successful strategy I can ever remember.”