Sex worker banned from working streets

A PROSTITUTE who has become the first to be given an Asbo under a new police crackdown today claimed the agencies charged with helping street workers have failed her.

A PROSTITUTE who has become the first to be given an Asbo under a new police crackdown today claimed the agencies charged with helping street workers have failed her.

Ipswich sex worker Louise Heath has been ordered not to sell sex on the streets of Ipswich again after being given the criminal anti-social behaviour order (Crasbo) by magistrates.

The order imposed by South East Suffolk Magistrates' Court also bans the 29-year-old heroin addict from being alone in a car with a man.

Heath responded to the order angrily, saying she had been arrested for soliciting in the past and this was the authorities' way of dealing with her.

She said: “When Steve Wright was waiting for trial they (the police) didn't care if you worked but as soon as he was found guilty and sentenced they wanted to nick everyone.”

Heath, of Samuel Court, Ipswich, claimed she had not received any help with housing or drug rehabilitation and had organised her own council housing and made her own appointments to receive methadone prescriptions.

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But the authorities behind Ipswich's five-year Street Prostitution Strategy today insisted she had been offered as much support as other sex workers who had chosen to accept the help.

Heath said: “I would have liked to have the help other girls had with drug treatment programmes, benefits, TV licences, food and general support. I would like to lead a normal life and do a couple of courses.”

Heath, who has gained notoriety for her defiance against the prostitution strategy and even been the subject of a fly-on-the-wall documentary about her addiction and life as a vice girl, said she now planned to travel out of Ipswich by train to work the streets elsewhere.

Superintendent Alan Caton, from Suffolk police, said Heath had received exhaustive offers of help for 12 months and police could no longer allow her to continue working as a prostitute.

He said: “You can't carry on breaking the law and behaving in that way. We don't want to go out there and arrest her, we've given her a year of opportunity.”

Heath is one of a handful of women who the authorities say have rejected offers of help since five Ipswich sex workers were murdered by serial killer Steve Wright in late 2006.

Mr Caton said while Heath had been given the Crasbo, she would continue to be offered help.

He said: “It's not a case of cutting her off. We want to provide her with the help to change her lifestyle.”

While not the first prostitute to be given an Asbo in Ipswich, Heath was the first to be made the subject of such an order following the end of an amnesty offered to prostitutes following Wright's murder spree.

Do you agree with Ipswich's efforts to tackle street prostitution? Write to: Your Letters, The Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN or e-mail eveningstarletters@eveningstar.co.uk