Vicar condemns vice strategy

AN IPSWICH vicar today condemned a new strategy tackling prostitution, claiming that it is sowing the seeds for further abuse and even murder of sex workers.

AN IPSWICH vicar today condemned a new strategy tackling prostitution, claiming that it is sowing the seeds for further abuse and even murder of sex workers.

Reverend Andrew Dotchin, vicar of Whitton Parish Church, fears that the town's new Street Prostitution Strategy could be dangerous because of a delay in rolling out certain parts of the scheme.

Mr Dotchin who knew 19-year-old Tania Nicol, the youngest of the five victims of the Ipswich red-light killings, said: “The strategy, far from providing a solution, is in fact sowing the seeds for further abuse and even murder of women.

“This is a sad response in the face of the care and compassion the world knows Ipswich is capable of providing.”


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The zero tolerance strategy has seen both kerb crawlers and sex workers targeted, with clients of the women being cautioned and even hauled before the courts, while the women are being offered help change their lives, including drug treatment programmes and accommodation.

Mr Dotchin's views were quickly countered by those behind the strategy, which was put together by a number of agencies including Suffolk police and Ipswich Borough Council, who today insisted that progress was being made.

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Hannah Jo Besley, community safety officer at Ipswich Borough Council, said: “We've been working with the women from day one. The stage we're at at the moment is actually very good.

“It's not something we can do in days or months and that's why the strategy is covering a five-year period.”

But Mr Dotchin claims that the two aspects of the strategy - the enforcement of kerb crawlers and assistance to the women - are not being put into place at the same time and while 40 men have been seized by officers, the sex worker rehabilitation part may not be introduced until next month.

In a letter to The Evening Star, he said: “Ipswich's sex workers still await the benefits which this strategy claims to deliver them and in the meantime suffer the after effects of the drying up of their income.”

But Ms Besley said while a new form of case conferencing, which involves all agencies meeting to discuss individual women, will not be fully in place until later this year much of the work was already being done.

She said: “We have these services in place. We can still focus on the women themselves and see what their needs are.”

Do you think the strategy will be helpful? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN, or email eveningstarletters@eveningstar.co.uk.

STREET PROSTITUTION STRATEGY

The Street Prostitution Strategy 2007 was put together by Suffolk police, Ipswich Borough Council, Suffolk County Council, the Suffolk Drug and Alcohol Action Team, Suffolk Primary Care Trust, Suffolk Mental Health Partnership Trust and the National Probation Service (Suffolk).

The key points of the action are to:

understand the extent of the prostitution problem and the impact on the local community

help authorities to allocate resources where they are needed most and ensure the situation is continually monitored

develop routes out of prostitution by offering individual attention to each woman involved in street prostitution

drug treatment programmes, health services, accommodation and other support will be available to those who want to change their lifestyles and leave street prostitution

respond to community concerns by deterring those who create the demand and removing the opportunity for street prostitution to take place

use early intervention measures to stop young people and children becoming involved in prostitution.

DID YOU KNOW?

Since the strategy was launched in March, 29 arrests have been made for kerb crawling, eight for outraging public decency and six for soliciting women. Eight women have also been arrested for soliciting.

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