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Last Updated: Thursday, 27 January, 2005, 15:30 GMT
Tackling prostitution around the UK
By Cindi John
BBC News community affairs reporter

Liverpool City Council is to apply to the Home Office for permission to set up the UK's first official prostitution tolerance zone - but how do other areas deal with the issue?

ABERDEEN

Since 2000 police in Aberdeen have been operating a 'management zone' for prostitution.

The city's estimated 130 prostitutes are allowed to solicit within the zone, an area a quarter of a mile square which adjoins the harbour, but no sexual activity is allowed to take place there.

The area is mainly industrial, so clashes with residents have not arisen, says Detective Chief Inspector Eric Leslie, crime manager for the Aberdeen division of Grampian Police.

The prostitutes are only allowed to work in the zone during the evening and night time hours so the activities of local businesses are not affected, he adds.

"I wouldn't say the businesses haven't objected, but they have co-operated with us; obviously they have concerns surrounding health and safety issues."

DONCASTER

Doncaster council is keen to set up a tolerance zone.

Consultations have taken place with residents' groups, some of which back the plan in the hope that a zone in an industrial area could stop prostitutes working near to homes and schools.

Mayor Martin Winter believes a tolerance zone would improve the quality of life for many Doncaster residents.

"In one area of Doncaster, street prostitution is destroying the lives of local residents and we will not tolerate it," Mr Winter says.

"Liverpool, like Doncaster, is a forward thinking council who we have worked closely with to share ideas on tackling prostitution. We are both looking to pilot a managed zone and we await the outcome of the Home Office consultation with interest."

Other initiatives in Doncaster to tackle prostitution include the partly council-funded Streetreach project which aims to help sex workers find ways of getting out of prostitution.

EDINBURGH

Edinburgh had one of the UK's oldest unofficial tolerance zones until it was scrapped in 2001.

The zone was set up in 1980s in the Leith area of the city. However, redevelopment led to the area becoming more residential and complaints about the prostitutes increased.

The zone was moved to a nearby industrial area but met local opposition there as well.

Since abolition of the zone attacks on sex workers have shot up, according to the Scottish Prostitutes Education Project (ScotPep).

"Violence went up from 11 attacks in 2001 to 111 in 2003 - a ten-fold increase", says Ruth Morgan Thomas of ScotPep.

Ms Thomas says the zone helped protect women by allowing them to work in groups in an area regularly patrolled by police. But all that changed with the abolition of the zone which forced women back into residential areas, she adds.

"In order to avoid both police and resident attention women worked on their own.

"That meant clients who had a tendency to be violent or take advantage of the women knew there was nobody there looking out for them."

MANCHESTER

In 2004 Manchester City Council brought an anti-social behaviour order against local prostitute Joette Lydiate banning her from working on every street in England and Wales.

It said she must not 'solicit or loiter for the purpose of prostitution in any place to which the public has access'.

The order, the first of its kind, was thought to be the most geographically extensive ASBO of its type.

However, Dave Hulme of Manchester City Council said Ms Lydiate's was an isolated case and the ASBO was aimed more at preventing her disruptive behaviour than her activities as a prostitute.

"City council policy is actually to divert prostitutes into better lifestyles once they're involved in the court system," Mr Hulme said.

STOKE-ON-TRENT

In spite of a much publicised drive by the town's mayor, Mike Wolfe, to create a tolerance zone the idea stalled in Stoke-on-Trent.

A tolerance zone to control the activities of the town's estimated 100 prostitutes was one of the items on Mr Wolfe's manifesto.

"That would make it clear to anyone, women or men, who want to use prostitutes that it is not acceptable to indulge in prostitution within the residential streets of our city," Mr Wolfe said.

However, the plan did not get as far as being put to residents for consultation.

"It was in the mayor's manifesto but the idea was dropped following talks with police," a council spokeswoman said.


SEE ALSO:
Approval for first red light zone
26 Jan 05 |  Merseyside
Bigger than the movies
09 Jun 04 |  Magazine
Dangers of street prostitution
26 Jun 04 |  Scotland


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