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Last Updated: Sunday, 10 December 2006, 15:27 GMT
Unease and anger at prostitute murders
By Lucy Rodgers
BBC News

Police have urged prostitutes in Suffolk to stay off the streets after the bodies of three women were discovered. So what are the dangers facing sex workers?

The bodies of Gemma Adams and Tania Nicol - who were friends and lived and worked in Ipswich - were found six days apart in the same stream.

A third unidentified body was also found and a fourth woman has been reported as missing, although police said it is too early to link them to the murders of Ms Adams and Ms Nicol.

Paige, another sex worker in Ipswich, knew both women and is aware of the dangers, but says she and other girls "have to come out" despite fears for their safety.

A prostitute and client
Street prostitutes have been warned to take 'extreme care'

"I've always been concerned but now I'm obviously more and more concerned," she said.

"I just want the police to get this maniac because that's what he is, he's cold, he's calculating, and he's nasty, and he doesn't deserve to be walking about."

Suffolk Police have urged other prostitutes to come forward to help with the inquiry, promising they would be dealt with sensitively.

Det Supt Andy Henwood also urged other prostitutes in the area to take extreme care.

"They do place themselves in an element of vulnerability and as such we would say to them they do need to look out for each other," he said.

He suggested they "make sure they perhaps tell each other where they're going, who they're going with, what time they'll be back and taking vehicle numbers and reporting anything suspicious to the police".

Ripper fears

Simon Aalders, who is co-ordinator of the Suffolk Drug Action Team and works with prostitutes in Ipswich, said women continued to walk the streets in the town despite the dangers, because they were in a desperate situation and needed the money.

"Some women are stopping their activity but some aren't," he said.

Suffolk police must not use the criminality imposed on sex workers by the prostitution laws as an excuse to deny women the protection we are all entitled to by law
English Collective of Prostitutes
"And I think that what that shows really is that a lot of these women are in desperate - extremely desperate - situations and things like drug dependency and poverty are really pushing women into this sort of activity."

The English Collective of Prostitutes, which represents sex workers, warned that without more action from Suffolk Police, there risked being a repeat of the Yorkshire Ripper case in which 13 women were murdered.

It called on the police to temporarily stop arresting prostitutes and their clients, to encourage them to come forward and help the inquiry.

"The Suffolk police must not use the criminality imposed on sex workers by the prostitution laws as an excuse to deny women the protection we are all entitled to by law," it said.

Money handed over
Drug dependency and poverty push women into prostitution, campaigners say

It also said police street-sweeps, arrests and Asbos had forced women into darker, isolated areas making them more vulnerable to rape and violence.

A spokeswoman said: "Over 70% of prostitute women are mothers.

"As poverty, homelessness and debt go up and women's wages go down, more women - especially with Christmas round the corner - are forced into prostitution to support themselves and their families.

"Every woman is some mother's daughter, someone's sister, aunt, beloved friend. Every life is of value."

Charlie Daniels used to be a sex worker, and now campaigns on issues surrounding prostitution. She said women on the street needed more help.

"I can't see how I live in a country where we have always looked after the most vulnerable types of people and yet prostitution has been looked down on as much as it is," she said.

"Girls who work the streets are vulnerable - these are girls who are sometimes on drugs, or single parents, or whatever, and yet they are trodden down on and (regarded as) disposable members of society in some cases."

Police reveal details about their investigation

Further tests on murdered women
10 Dec 06 |  Suffolk

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