Police proposal for 'managed' prostitution zone in area of Newport - but will it turn it into 'Little Amsterdam'?
The scheme is thought to be the first of its kind in Wales on streets where, say residents, girls as young as 14 are already selling sex
Police are behind a plan to introduce “managed” prostitution in a Welsh city amidst claims girls of 14 are selling sex on the streets for £2.
The scheme, expected to be tested in Newport, is believed to be the first of its kind on this side of the border.
Gwent Police said it has looked at pilots run in the north of England and are looking to see if it can be applied to the Pill area of Newport.
A spokeswoman for the force said: “Officers have looked at pilot initiatives implemented by police forces in the north of England and are in the very early stages of looking to see what, if any, solutions can be applied to the issues in Pill.'Designated area that prostitutes can use'
“One of these solutions includes a designated place away from residential areas that prostitutes can use.
“It has been shown that this initiative has enabled police and local agencies to provide prostitutes with opportunities to access support services including health, welfare, addiction and housing.”Help prostitutes leave sex work
The project came to light after information was distributed at a Labour group meeting in Newport about the “Holbeck street sex working managed area” in the north of England.
The Newport scheme would aim to help prostitutes leave sex work, improve street sex workers’ safety and boost reporting of offences against prostitutes.
“While officers and local councillors have met, this idea is still in the very early stages,” the Gwent Police spokeswoman said.
“Before anything is decided officers are keen to look at evidence-based results from the pilot initiatives. Only then will there be extensive consultation with residents, businesses and the council before anything is decided.”Girls are 'impacting lives' in Pill area
The force insisted the “number of prostitutes in Gwent is small.”
But it said: “The small number that operate do so mostly in the Pill area of Newport which is impacting the lives of local residents.”
The spokeswoman said: “We have a fundamental responsibility to protect communities from the nuisance caused by prostitution, but also to protect individuals involved in prostitution from harm themselves.
“This may mean disrupting activity through investigation and enforcement or through support by creating effective partnerships with other statutory and voluntary agencies to minimise or eliminate that harm or nuisance.”Prostitution will 'always exist'
Police and politicians were “realistic about the fact that prostitution will always exist.”
“It has been shown that enforcement alone is not an effective solution,” the spokeswoman said.
“While we closely monitor and work with individuals involved in off-street prostitution, on-street prostitution has proven more difficult.”'Issue' with Commercial Road
Pill councillor Omar Ali had been party to “various police discussions.”
“The police have always had an issue with prostitution on the main drag in Commercial Road,” he said.
That is the high street in Newport’s Pill area.
“It’s early days in terms of how best to support the community with these problems.”
He was concerned residential areas were being used to sell sex and that “vulnerable” women were not safe.
“They are looking to see how prostitution in Pill can be dealt with,” Coun Ali said.We don't want 'Amsterdam'
Monmouth MP David Davies once lived near a Newport brothel and dealt with prostitutes while working as a special constable in London.
“I don’t think anyone wants a situation where parts of Pill are being turned into something like you see in Amsterdam, where people are touting their wares from shop windows,” he said.
He said he was worried that would not “be very nice for law abiding people.”'Vulnerable' women
“Current thinking is that women working on the street are most vulnerable to attack and it is better for them to work in a well managed premises where there is supervision.”
Mr Davies said: “I’m not aware of any managed prostitution areas in Wales but it’s obvious a blind eye has been turned to prostitution.
“I lived close to a brothel in Newport for quite a long time. I didn’t make use of it and it did not cause any problems, and that was that.”Pushes it underground
Mr Davies is on a committee that conducted an inquiry into prostitution.
“The thinking in Europe is to prosecute users, the men who use prostitutes,” he said.
“I don’t think that works because it pushes it underground.
“People can take a moral view, but if they are consenting adults and want to come to an arrangement, I don’t know that the government has any role in doing anything about that.
“We have a role to make sure women are safe.”'Riots' if this goes ahead
Newport resident Sarah Allen was at the June 11 Labour group meeting where the idea was mooted.
“Obviously it was opposed because Pill has enough issues as it is,” the mum-of-one said.
“It’s all hush-hush, it’s not been mentioned to the wider public at all.
“If they try and go ahead with it there will be riots.”'Girls as young as 14 charging £2 for sex'
She was given the Holbeck handout which asked: “How are we going to deal with the situation?”
“Holbeck is in Yorkshire where they’re already running the scheme that they want to implement in Newport,” Sarah said.
“When I looked into it the local residents who live in the area can’t even leave their houses without being propositioned.
“In theory, I’m not against making it safe for the women who do this.
“There are girls who walk the streets of Pill already who are as young as 14 and are charging £2 for sex.
“Why can’t they do this in an industrial area where there won’t be families?”http://oldestprof.com/index.php/crimewa ... -amsterdam