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Friday, 21 April, 2000, 14:21 GMT 15:21 UK
Dutch police guide to sex and drugs
Red Light district in Amsterdam
Buyer beware: prostitutes may be men
Dutch police are publishing a guide to Amsterdam's red light district for tourists who flock to the city for sex and drugs.

The leaflet tell visitors not to buy cannabis from street dealers - only from the coffee shops which are authorised to sell it.

It also tell clients how to deal with Amsterdam's many prostitutes - who display themselves behind large windows.

"Pay particular attention to the places you enter," the guide says. "Lots of tourists are taken by surprise when the lady they are visiting turns out to be a gent."

Summer season

The English-language leaflet is called "Police Red Light Guide" and will be released in time for the summer tourist season.

The guide was written by agent Wim Schild, a 12-year veteran of the red light district beat, who also lives in the area.

He says anyone planning to eat "space-cakes" - cookies laced with marijuana or hashish - should make sure to drink lots of sweet liquids.

Liberal policies

Amsterdam has long taken a liberal view of prostitution and marijuana.

Brothels were officially legalised at the beginning of last year.

Until then, they were "tolerated" - officially illegal but not prosecuted.

The government said legalisation would make it harder for criminals to use sex clubs as a cover and help to deprive illegal immigrants of a source of employment.

Coffee-shops trading in cannabis have been regulated by Amsterdam city council for many years.

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