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Last Updated: Sunday, 13 May 2007, 11:35 GMT 12:35 UK
Campaign to target kerb-crawlers
A prostitute speaks to a kerb-crawler
The campaign will stress kerb-crawlers risk shaming their family
The Home Office and police are launching an advertising campaign designed to reduce kerb-crawling and prostitution on the UK's streets.

The adverts, to be played on local radio stations, will warn kerb-crawlers they face arrest and a 1,000 fine.

The six-week campaign is launched this week in London, Middlesbrough, Peterborough, Southampton, Bristol, Bournemouth and Leeds.

But the adverts have been described as a "draconian crackdown" by critics.

The government hopes that by reducing demand for prostitutes it will challenge the existence of street sex markets.

'Innocent women'

Home Office Minister Vernon Coaker said: "Local communities are fed-up with street prostitution - the sexual activity taking place in their parks and playgrounds, condoms and discarded needles littering the streets and innocent women mistakenly targeted and abused by men on the prowl.

"For the residents it is intimidating, unpleasant and unsafe. Kerb-crawlers make a choice when they pay for sex on our streets and I want to make them think twice.

"This campaign sends a stark warning to them that the price they pay could be more than just financial - it could cost them their livelihood and family."

The campaign warns kerb-crawlers face arrest, a court appearance, warning letters to their home, a 1,000 fine and a driving ban.

Kerb crawling causes misery to many
Ch Supt Ian Dyson

It also stresses they could bring shame to family, friends and employers.

Ch Supt Ian Dyson, in charge of the Clubs and Vice Unit at the Metropolitan Police, said: "Kerb crawling causes misery to many.

"From the local communities that are blighted by the crime and detritus associated with the on-street sex markets, the chaotic and often vulnerable women who are forced by their circumstances to work the capital's streets, to the families and friends of the men who are caught.

"Men from every lifestyle go kerb-crawling, but the one thing they all share in common is if caught by my officers we will ensure they are put before the courts.

"With regular operations being carried out by us, men who kerb-crawl need to stop and think about the overall cost to them and their future."

'More vulnerable'

He added the Met was also trying to reduce the number of street prostitutes by working with services offering support to women wanting to leave the industry.

A spokeswoman for the English Collective of Prostitutes, which calls for the decriminalisation of prostitution, said the campaign risked driving prostitutes underground.

He said: "We have seen the impact of draconian crackdowns like this in Ipswich, where women have been driven further underground into unfamiliar, less well-lit areas where they are more vulnerable to attack."

A Home Office spokesman said: "A significant section of the government's prostitution strategy is aimed at supporting and protecting those involved by raising awareness among young people of the risks."

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