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Last Updated: Tuesday, 5 April, 2005, 05:40 GMT 06:40 UK
Kerb crawlers dig deep to change
By Jamie Thompson
BBC News, Nottingham

Prostitute and kerb crawler
Only three of 400 men on the course have been re-arrested
Kerb crawlers are digging deep into their pockets - for a course aimed at changing their views of prostitutes.

From teachers to doctors, the innovative initiative has taken in men from all walks of life.

Most offenders arrested by police on the streets face a brief - but embarrassing - court appearance.

But the rehabilitation course taken on by three police forces in England sees men look at the lives of the women they pay for.

More than 400 men arrested by officers have taken the day-long programme - and only three have been pulled over for re-offending.

Many like to think of street prostitutes as students short of money, housewives who are bored
Ian Caren, course organiser

It was first launched in Hampshire, before forces in Dorset and, most recently, Nottinghamshire also signed up.

Ian Caren, who worked within Hampshire Probation Service for about 20 years, and Yyvone Shell, a clinical and forensic consultant psychologist, were approached by Hants vice officers who were being constantly confronted by the same familiar faces.

The pair agreed to look at the issue of street prostitution and devised a course to try to stop men from repeat offending.

"My initial thoughts were whether or not to do it," said Mr Caren.

"You often think shouldn't it be legalised?

"But when we looked more closely at the problems for street prostitutes we were quite horrified.

"We have had 400 guys who have actually completed the course - three have been reconvicted.

"That's an astonishingly low re-offending rate."

Prostitute and kerb crawler
Some men have broken down in tears while on the course

The scheme - called the Change Course - looks at the effects a criminal conviction has on men's families, how kerb crawling affects communities and what the future holds for the men.

But the bulk of it centres on the prostitutes themselves.

"When you look at research into the age at which people start on the streets, it can be from 12 or 13 years of age," said Mr Caren.

"It's these girls that can end of up working on the streets of Nottingham or Southampton or other cities.

"This gives us a drive to say to people 'This isn't acceptable is it?'

"Many like to think of street prostitutes as students short of money, housewives who are bored, women who don't get enough sex at home.

"What we do is confront these ideas and look at the reality, which is they could have been having sex with 13 or 14-year-olds."

'In tears'

Men who are arrested kerb crawling are given the choice of going to court or signing up for the course, which costs between 150-200.

Even if they complete the programme, they still receive a caution.

The course has taken on men aged 18-70, from all walks of life and with different reasons for becoming kerb crawlers.

"We've had GPs, teachers, employment consultants, heads of companies; all sorts of people," said Mr Caren.

"As for the reasons they give us for using street prostitutes, sex doesn't always come as the highest.

'Exciting risk

"We also find men who are impotent and think seeing a street prostitute will assist them as they think they would be, so to speak, 'experts in the field'.

"Others say it's because of loneliness and isolation.

"Others have a high-threshold for risk taking.

"A lot of guys find going to a red light area very exciting and dangerous.

"For some who work long hours they say doing this is an exciting risk.

"But a lot of these guys do want to change."

Kerb-crawler rehab 'is working'
14 Feb 05 |  Nottinghamshire
Kerb crawlers warned by posters
26 Nov 04 |  Nottinghamshire

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