Page last updated at 12:22 GMT, Tuesday, 17 January 2006

'I was mugged by a prostitute'

Prostitution image
Christine says there were always several prostitutes on her street

Christine Newton, a 28-year-old lawyer, was bitten by a London prostitute in an attempted mugging one weekday morning.

She was on her way from home near the Shacklewell Lane red light area in Dalston, Hackney, to catch a bus to work at a City law firm.

As the government unveils its plans for sex-workers, she tells the BBC News Website how prostitution forced her from the area.

"We lived in gated flats off Shacklewell Lane three years ago. I shared the flat with two friends, it was a nice loft apartment, nicer than anywhere else I'd ever lived.

"I'm not from London. When we moved in we said 'Is this a good area?' and the estate agent said 'yes, it's safe'.

Mugging attempt

"There were always prostitutes hanging around on that road. For some reason the busiest time used to be in the morning.

"This morning there were more than usual - probably about 6 loitering around. As I passed one she tried to grab my bag, but I wouldn't let her take it.

It happened more times than I could count - people would pull up in cars and check out whether I was a prostitute
Christine Newton
London lawyer

"She was only small and it was clearly opportunistic. She was 5"2' and scrawny, like me, so I had a bit of a scuffle with her. She bit me on the hands to try and make me let go of the bag.

"But at that point I just screamed 'I am being mugged here' - because everyone was just ignoring it. She was obviously on something when she did it. She looked quite wild-eyed."

The mugging was never followed up, Christine says, after police cancelled appointments to look at mugshots because their computer was broken.

"The police in Hackney had other things to worry about, bigger fish to fry," she says.

Unmarked car

But it was another incident which, combined with the mugging, convinced Christine to get out of an area blighted by prostitution.

"About a week before that, I'd been out watching the football and was walking back to Shacklewell Lane.

"The police were in an unmarked police car - I thought it was just another car pulling up.

"It happened more times than I could count - people would pull up in cars and check out whether I was a prostitute."

Urged to move

"They (the police) said they would take me home because I was being followed. I got really told off by them for walking home alone at night.

"I said that I lived there, and that's what you had to do. They said 'well I suggest you live somewhere else'.

"I never really thought that I was unsafe until that incident with the police.

"It was the thought that they had been watching me for a while and people were following me, and being told to live somewhere else.

"After I got mugged, we decided to move."

Kerb-crawling danger

Christine says she knew the replacement tenants at the flat and they also moved out because of the local prostitution.

She believes government plans to crack down on men who pay for sex are right, but kerb-crawling will only stop if prostitution is legalised to take place off the street.

"I know I got mugged by a prostitute - but she was relatively defenceless, and probably a drug addict," she says.

"Kerb crawling - that should be wiped out because it's the men that pose the danger."

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