Sex workers back on town streets

PROSTITUTES have been back out on the streets of Ipswich since the multi-agency group tackling the town's street sex problem reported a sharp drop in their numbers, The Evening Star can reveal.

Grant Sherlock

PROSTITUTES have been back out on the streets of Ipswich since the multi-agency group tackling the town's street sex problem reported a sharp drop in their numbers, The Evening Star can reveal.

Ipswich's Street Prostitution Strategy Group today admitted that two sex workers had been spotted working in the town just weeks after members declared a period when the streets had been clear of the vice trade.

The group today said the presence of the women illustrated the difficult task at hand in helping women off the street and said the steps put in place after the murders of five sex workers were working well.

Simon Aalders, interim chairman of the prostitution strategy group, said the women who had been spotted working the streets were seen on CCTV as well as being reported to authorities by residents and they were quickly offered advice and help.

He said: “There were a couple of women that we identified. As soon as they were seen they were approached by the teams on the street.

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“There was a long period of time when there were no women working the streets. I think people were right in saying 'this is a great achievement'.

“As we know this is a complex problem. It doesn't mean women aren't going to appear periodically on the streets.”

Ipswich's Street Prostitution Strategy, which encourages women to leave behind their lives on the street by addressing drug addiction and abusive partners, has led to more than 30 women accessing treatment and other services.

The number of women working the streets around Portman Road and Handford Road has dropped markedly since it was launched.

The Safety First Coalition, a group calling for changes to the way Britain handles prostitution, met at McGinty's bar in Ipswich last night on the night of the fifth anniversary into decriminalising sex working in New Zealand.

The campaigners said the New Zealand move had been a huge success, citing from a report into the change, and told the meeting in Northgate Street how a change from criminalisation in Ipswich and beyond to the system would have benefits for protecting women from violence and breaking the cycle of being stuck on the streets.

Teresa Mackay, the vice-president of the Ipswich & District Trades Union Council, who chaired the meeting, criticised the prostitution strategy launched in the wake of the murders by serial killer Steve Wright in December 2006.

She said: “They have said they have cleared the streets of prostitutes. We are here to tell you that is not the case. Many of them are working elsewhere in the town and in their homes.”