Vicar: There is hope for sex workers

A CHURCH leader who knew one of the victims of the red-light killings today told of his hope that the town's sex workers could be helped out of prostitution in the wake of the women's deaths.

A CHURCH leader who knew one of the victims of the red-light killings today told of his hope that the town's sex workers could be helped out of prostitution in the wake of the women's deaths.

Ipswich reverend Andrew Dotchin, of Whitton Parish Church, said he believed Ipswich's problems were manageable and with the right support women could be helped off the streets.

Mr Dotchin was one of several speakers at a national conference in London on Saturday which addressed the future of prostitution.

He said the main message to come out of the event was not to criminalise sex workers.

Mr Dotchin said: “It is very easy to say 'get the girls off the streets and you will solve the problem' but the fact remains that there are women in the town with poverty and abuse problems and there needs to be a much more intensive case work approach with women to help them and I think Ipswich Borough Council are very committed to that.”

He said putting sex workers in prison would not solve the problem in the long-term and support was needed for them to address the reasons they were working the streets.

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Mr Dotchin, who knew 19-year-old Tania Nicol - one of the five victims of the red-light killings - through his church, added: “One of the concerns expressed (at the conference) was that it is all very well to give someone an anti-social behaviour order or lock them away for six months but then their children go into care and we know that the majority of those on the fringes of society come from care.

“Over the years if you criminalise street workers and habitual drug users you perpetuate the problem and pass it on to the next generation.”

Mr Dotchin said the strategy on prostitution in Ipswich could now either concentrate on the women or the kerb crawlers.

He added: “We have an imbalance in our society which says it is always the women who are guilty. It is seen as the fault of anyone in a short skirt and that goes for rape and prostitution.

“Kerb crawling is not good and is not healthy and we need to look at those behaviours as well. It is not a simple solution such as lets photograph all the kerb crawlers and lock up all the street workers.”

Mr Dotchin said he believed the authorities needed to work with the women and make life difficult for the kerb crawlers.

He added: “I think we hoped we were doing that before the killings and, particularly for the Drug and Alcohol Action Team, there was light at the end of the tunnel but someone got to the women before the programme could.”

How do you think Ipswich should tackle prostitution? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN, or e-mail eveningstarletters@eveningstar.co.uk.

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