Page last updated at 11:25 GMT, Tuesday, 13 April 2010 12:25 UK

Medway police hail prostitution project 'a success'

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Prostitute aid hailed as success

A project to tackle prostitution in Medway has been hailed as a success by Kent Police after seven months.

"Safe Exit", run by Kent Police, Medway Drug and Alcohol Action Team, Medway Council and NHS Medway, helps sex workers with housing and education.

Kent Police said that of 110 known women who were sex workers, fewer than 20 were known to still be working as prostitutes.

The project was launched in August as a response to complaints in Medway.

Insp Gary Woodward said: "Previously we looked at prosecuting them [prostitutes] - they would have gone to court, got a a fine and would have to go back on the streets to pay the fine.

"Now we look at every aspect of their life from housing, benefits, education, what they're doing in their spare time, and we look at working on all those areas so we can exit them from prostitution and take away all those triggers that made them do it in the first place."

Cari Mitchell from the English Collective of Prostitutes said: "The question really is, 'where are people now and what are women doing?', because normally they move to different areas.

"The police say they are focusing on getting women out rather than prosecuting, whereas the trend nationally is to increase criminalisation."

One woman, who worked as a prostitute in Medway for 17 years, said: "I've been arrested before but this time I was given the opportunity to do the project.

"Once I started seeing results, it gave me more of an incentive to carry on, there's actually people putting money where their mouth is."



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