Vice strategy boosted by new appointment

IPSWICH'S effort to help prostitutes out of their crippling drug addictions is set to be boosted by the appointment of a new specialist drugs worker.

IPSWICH'S effort to help prostitutes out of their crippling drug addictions is set to be boosted by the appointment of a new specialist drugs worker.

The senior project worker at the drugs charity The Iceni Project will have special responsibility for engaging with the town's sex workers and helping them into rehabilitation programmes.

The position is being funded jointly by the Fore Street based centre and the Ipswich Crime and Disorder Reduction Partnership.

The post is being advertised this week with a salary of between £22,000 and £26,000.

Brian Tobin, co-founder of the Iceni Project, said he has been carrying out the work himself to date, with several women already committing themselves to rehab programmes, but he said a dedicated worker was needed for the position.

He said: “This far we've got eight working with us. Four of the girls are starting treatment with us but we are waiting until the others are ready to start the treatment.

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“Two of the four that have started treatment have already started the programme and two are coming in on a regular basis.

“I'm really pleased with the progress thus far.”

Ipswich has increased its efforts to help prostitutes break free from their addictions following the killings of five sex workers last year.

The town has put together a street prostitution strategy, which aims to remove the problem of street prostitution within five years.

While police target the men who create a demand for the sleazy street sex trade, agencies ranging from Ipswich Borough Council to the community drugs team and charities like The Iceni Project have been helping the women who work the streets change their lives.

Mr Tobin said there had been considerable early progress, with the number of women regularly working the streets reduced to about eight.

He said he knows four who gave up prostitution completely following last year's killings but said some were proving harder to help.

Two women have been moved away from Ipswich to help them break free from the drugs cycle while others have been helped with accommodation and healthcare in Ipswich.

Mr Tobin said the new project worker could further accelerate the progress.

He said: “It's going to be such a challenging yet rewarding role. It's the first of its kind in this area specifically aimed at engagement and getting these girls into treatment.

“I think it could set a precedent across the country if it goes well.”

What do you think of the efforts to help Ipswich's prostitutes? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN, or e-mail eveningstarletters@eveningstar.co.uk.

The Somebody's Daughter appeal

The fund was launched in conjunction with Ipswich Borough Council in the wake of the killings of five women in Suffolk.

The bodies of Gemma Adams, Tania Nicol, Anneli Alderton, Annette Nicholls and Paula Clennell were found in remote rural locations last December.

All had worked in the sex trade and all had drug habits.

As a legacy to the five women, and in a bid to prevent others from walking in their same desperate footsteps, The Somebody's Daughter appeal was given a mandate of helping vulnerable young people in Ipswich.

The ultimate goal is to raise enough money to open a safe house where those embroiled in prostitution and drugs can seek support and guidance.

Donations to the memorial fund 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.

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