'Change kerb crawling laws', says support group for Hull prostitutes
KERB crawlers are being targeted by a support group for prostitutes.
At present, those caught soliciting prostitutes can be arrested and bailed but then it has to be proved they coerced the woman into prostitution.
But Lucy Paxton, of the Lighthouse Project, based in Newland Avenue, west Hull, wants the UK to introduce the Swedish legislation known as the Kvinnofrid law, which recognises prostitution as violence against women.
This would mean kerb crawling or approaching prostitutes would be a crime in itself, with no need to prove coercion.
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Mrs Paxton said: "If someone is caught kerb crawling they can be arrested and bailed.
"But in order to get a conviction it has to be proved the woman was coerced into prostitution.
"This is the case usually for street prostitution but the law makes it very difficult to bring a conviction.
"The Swedish law criminalises the purchase full stop without any pre-requisites such as proving coercion.
"It is a moral stance of violence against women at a governmental level."
Her comments come after residents living off Hessle Road claimed prostitutes are working right outside their homes.
Frustration is growing that not enough is being done to tackle the number of sex workers plying their trade on the road's street corners.
The area close to Constable Street is a particular concern, with many residents deterred from going outside after dark.
Resident Julie Lambert told the Mail last week: "We have had this problem for ten years.
"There were four prostitutes down there just the other night. It is like Amsterdam.
"There are condoms all along the tenfoots.
"People are frightened to speak out but something has to be done.
"You can't stop prostitution but it shouldn't be allowed to go on in residential areas."
Mrs Paxton believes the problem is being addressed.
She said: "The women can get 'yellow carded' for soliciting.
"Two yellow cards in three months can lead to a conviction unless the woman engages with support agencies.
"The police in Hull have worked well over the past two years to build relationships and aid women linking with agencies to support them towards exiting street prostitution.
"There has been less presence on the streets for the past six months.
"But our figures for the first eight months still show we have had contact with 54 different women in the evening and an additional 30 during the day."
Mrs Paxton is keen to point out that the prostitutes are also the victims.
She said: "The women working on our streets suffer violence and coercion on a daily basis.
"About 98 per cent are on Class A drugs, caught in an inexorable cycle of poverty, abuse, exploitation, low self- esteem and despair.
"Choice is a word they cannot comprehend in this situation.
"We support women to gain stability, self-esteem and worth, empowering them on the arduous journey towards exiting prostitution."