Teenage prostitutes work Ipswich streets

IN the week a second prostitute vanished from the streets of Ipswich, The Evening Star can today reveal that a girl aged just 17 is working the red light are of the town.

IN the week a second prostitute vanished from the streets of Ipswich, The Evening Star can today reveal that a girl aged just 17 is working the red light are of the town.

The teenager, who did not wish to be named, told The Star she had been working for a year and regularly took to the streets to work as a prostitute.

She said many of the girls had stayed at home since the disappearance, first of Tania Nicol on October 31 and then Gemma Adams on November 14, but added that she always took care when working the streets.

The teenager, from Ipswich, said recent events had made her “a bit shaky”.

She said: “I haven't really taken any extra precautions but I have got an alarm. I always think about who I get in a car with and if I don't like the look of someone, I don't get in their car.”

Hannah-Jo Besley, community safety officer for Ipswich Borough Council, said the age of the girl was unusual.

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Ms Besley, who works closely with the town's street prostitutes, said the average age of the women was about 24 to 25.

She said: “She (the 17-year-old) is one of the much younger ones. Most are in their mid 20s up to their early 30s and some are older than that as well.

“I can't really say how old the girls in the massage parlours are but the average age on the streets is about 24 to 25.”

She said about 30 prostitutes were known to work in the red light district and in a previous survey of 25 of them, 98 per cent of them admitted having a drug problem.

She added: “We did some research three years ago and found that in some cases it was a family tradition.

“One of the girls that is out there had a mum who was a prostitute and when she died her daughter took over her clients. Another reason they start is to fund their habits.”

Ms Besley works with the community drug team outreach service which visits the red light area every Thursday.

She said some of the prostitutes were scared at the moment but she didn't think any less were working than normal.

Due to concerns about the disappearance of Miss Nicol and Miss Adams, she warned girls to take extra safety measures and to look out for one another.

She said Miss Nicol, who is 19, was not well known to the other women and said young girls could be more vulnerable for this reason.

She added: “Because they are new to the group and don't necessarily know the older ladies they won't get the same sort of information about protecting themselves.

“They are a group we probably need to target more.”

She said prostitutes in the town do get attacked, adding: “It is part of the job. They do get quite a rough time and when it comes to violence they don't report it because they don't think of it as a big crime really.

“In the last two years things have changed slightly and for some reason the girls are working more independently so we are trying to encourage them to work in a group and check who each other are going with.”

She said all of the working women were currently carrying personal attack alarms and had been warned to trust their instincts and to report anything suspicious to the police.

Are you a prostitute working in Ipswich? Do you feel safe on the streets? Write to: Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN or e-mail: eveningstarletters@eveningstar.co.uk

GEMMA Adams was last seen in the Bramford Road area, near Victoria Street at about 10pm on Tuesday.

She left her partner and headed into town, where she is thought to have been going to work as a prostitute.

The 25-year-old failed to contact her partner in the early hours of the morning and he reported her missing at 2.55am.

Yesterday officers conducted an extensive but routine search of Miss Adams' home in Blenheim Road.

Gemma is white, 5ft 2in, of slim build with long blonde hair and a spotty complexion.

Anyone with information about Gemma's disappearance should call Suffolk police on 01473 613538 or Crimestoppers on 0800 555111.

THERE have been no confirmed sightings of Tania Nicol since she left her home in Woolverstone Close at 10pm on October 31.

The 19-year-old is also thought to have been heading into town to work as a prostitute.

She was reported missing at 10.45pm the following day and there have been unconfirmed sightings of her in the red light area on the night of her disappearance.

She is described as olive skinned 5ft 2in and of slim build with shoulder length light brown hair, brown eyes and a spotty complexion.

Anyone with information about Tania's disappearance should call Suffolk police on 01473 613588 or Crimestoppers on 0800 555111.