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Tuesday, July 28, 1998 Published at 21:35 GMT 22:35 UK


Prostitution survey calls for licensing

The survey suggested "tolerance zones" for prostitutes

A magazine survey says licensed red-light districts should be set up to clear prostitution off the streets.

Some 63% of people support the idea of introducing "tolerance zones" - where prostitutes could ply their trade without fear of prosecution - as the best method of cleaning up residential areas with a kerb-crawling problem.

Even more people - 76% - favoured introducing some form of regulation for the sex industry on the basis that it was unlikely the problem would simply go away, according to the NOP Solutions survey carried out for Bella magazine.

Although most people felt urgent action was needed to clear residential areas with vice problems, the majority were tolerant of prostitution itself.

Only 27% believed it should be stamped out altogether.

The survey showed the public were at odds with MPs, who have previously rejected the idea of authorised "tolerance zones" or regulation, said the magazine.

Supporters believe it would help to remove the problems of drugs and crime currently linked with prostitution, as well as protecting people in residential areas - particularly children - from the effects.

However, reports have warned that a model tolerance zone in Utrecht, Holland, became a magnet for drug users and violent clients.

Bella editor-in-chief Jackie Highe said: "Whatever the moral rights and wrongs of prostitution, it's not going to go away.

"Our findings suggest that most people recognise that, while it may not be socially acceptable, it is a social fact."

"Studies indicate that confining prostitution to authorised tolerance zones is no perfect solution, but the public clearly feels it is an infinitely lesser evil than the situation which exists now."

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