The Oldest Profession

Norfolk police target sex workers in Norwich’s Rosary Road

Published in The Norwich Evening News
14th July 2017

Sex workers have been attracted back on to the streets of Norwich by the recent warm weather, according to police. Norfolk’s police and crime commissioner Lorne Green joined officers in an operation to curb nuisance behaviour in the city’s Rosary Road.

Sergeant Mark Shepherd, who led the group of 11 officers, said the police action on Thursday evening formed part of Operation Wormington which had been running since November. “It’s an ongoing operation targeting sex workers, aggressive street begging, and anti-social street drinking,” he said. Rosary Road has been identified as a trouble spot by local residents who have called for more police action in the area.

“Tonight is about high visibility and giving reassurance to the public that we are there for them,” said Sgt Shepherd. “It’s important that we have the public on our side.” He said the recent warm weather had brought a number of sex workers out onto the streets.

“Our approach is to try and divert them away from this lifestyle as we need to look at the bigger picture. We need to understand why these girls are there and then work with our various partners to get them off the streets for good.”

He said police worked closely with the Magdelen Group and Matrix Project to support sex workers to leave the industry. “Most are doing it to fund addictions and many are working for pimps,” he said. “If we find them working we give them a warning and refer them to the Magdelen and Matrix projects. If caught again they get a second warning and if caught for a third time within a six month period after that they are arrested.”

Commissioner Green said it was important to try and reduce the number of cases being reported to police by adopting a preventative approach. “The courts are overcrowded, the prisons are overcrowded and there’s not enough support for ex offenders. Women have special needs in terms of the criminal justice system and I want to try and take the strain off the system through projects which deal with repeat offending.”

The team patrolled along Rosary Road while a vehicle with commissioner Green and Sgt Shepherd drove along Cannell Green Road where they stopped and spoke to one woman. “I’ve known her for about 20 years,” said Sgt Shepherd. “I’m not sure that she is working tonight but my message was, we’re out tonight, so don’t do it.”