The names Tania Nicol, Gemma Adams, Anneli Alderton, Paula Clennell and Annette Nicholls served as painful and daily reminders to prostitutes in Norwich of the peril they were exposing themselves to. There was a genuine sense of
fear that they could be victims of
the same crime that befell five
women just a few miles away in Suffolk at the tender ages of 19, 25, 24, 24 and 29.
But a decade on from the
murders and the conviction of Steve Wright – who was sentenced to a whole life term in 2008 – women in Norwich are again putting themselves in “incredibly vulnerable” situations. In recent months police have stepped up patrols in parts of Norwich, including Rosary Road, following a rise in reports of anti-social behaviour linked to sex workers.
Since January the Norwich-based Magdalene Group, which was set up more than 20 years ago to help sex workers and people at risk from sexual exploitation, has had 98 contacts with 34 different women on the streets in the city’s red light district.
The charity said that while the city did have indoor sex workers who seemed better able to manage their lives, there were many more still working the streets. “The women are still out there
in incredibly vulnerable situations,” said Suzi Heybourne, chief executive officer of the King Street-based
charity. “They are not out there lightly so whether it’s safe or not is not a driving force for them, it’s quite simply around survival – they need the money to address their addictions.
She added: “The women who work on the streets are the most chaotic, they’ve got the most complex issues that they are dealing with. These women don’t engage
with mainstream services, they
don’t go for their appointments
with drug and alcohol agencies,
they don’t show for their housing appointments because when you’re living in chaos you sometimes don’t know what day it is let alone that you’ve got an appointment.”
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