Tougher prostitution laws are welcomed

TOUGHER laws which would give police stronger powers to crackdown on seedy kerb crawlers were today welcomed in Ipswich.

TOUGHER laws which would give police stronger powers to crackdown on seedy kerb crawlers were today welcomed in Ipswich.

Home secretary Jacqui Smith was expected to announce that the act of prowling red light districts looking for prostitutes would be punishable as a first offence rather than the current system of issuing warnings before prosecution.

The Home Secretary's proposals could also see men who use prostitutes controlled by a pimp or trafficked in to the country face criminal charges.

Anyone using a sex worker “controlled for another person's gain” would be guilty of an offence. Not being aware of the woman's circumstances is not thought likely to be an available defence.

Ipswich has led the way in developing a strategy to rid its streets of prostitution following the murders of five women in late 2006.

Earlier this year, Home Office minister Vernon Coaker visited Ipswich to assess the successes of the strategy.

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Borough council leader Liz Harsant said Ms Smith's plans were a reflection of the work undertaken in Ipswich.

Mrs Harsant said: “I am pleased to see today's proposals regarding kerb crawling because we have developed that here in Ipswich and it has worked.

“I know it's the case that government ministers saw what we were doing in Ipswich in relation to tackling street prostitution and have taken that on board.”

However, Mrs Harsant urged the government to provide greater funding to help former sex workers make a clean break from vice and drug addiction.

Suffolk police's superintendent Alan Caton, who has been heavily involved in the prostitution strategy, said: “As far as we are concerned we have always said in relation to the prostitution strategy we would adhere to any legislation which is passed.

“What is pleasing is that government ministers have been to Ipswich to see what we are doing to combat the problem.”

Home secretary Ms Smith's plans also include regulating lap dancing clubs in the same way as sex shops, making it harder for them to spread in towns and cities.

“We'll give communities a stronger say in stopping lap-dancing clubs opening in their areas,” Ms Smith said.

Do you support the crackdown on kerb crawlers? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN or e-mail eveningstarletters@eveningstar.co.uk

AN appeal launched in the wake of the Ipswich murders continues to gather pace today.

The Somebody's Daughter fund, created in conjunction with Ipswich Borough Council, is a registered charity with a mandate of helping vulnerable young people in Ipswich.

Donations can be made online at www.eveningstar.co.uk, in person at Ipswich Borough Council's customer service centre in the Town Hall, by calling 01473 433777, or by sending a cheque, made payable to Somebody's Daughter Memorial Fund, to PO Box 772, Ipswich Borough Council, Grafton House, 15-17 Russell Road, Ipswich, Suffolk, IP1 2DE.