Thursday, October 3, 2002

Top officer wants prostitution legalised

A senior police officer has called for zones of tolerance to be created where prostitutes can work legally after it was revealed Wolverhampton has the third busiest street vice trade in the country.

Officers had failed in their battle to put an end to prostitution in red light districts in Wolverhampton, a local forum was told.

The city's vice hotspots are All Saints and Horseley Fields, where in the last month alone police have arrested prostitutes for a total of 70 offences.

Chief Supt John Colston said it was now time to fall in line with the rest of Europe and make the profession legal.

He said it was a 'radical' move but perhaps the only way forward to address the age-old problems associated with streetwalkers.

Chief Supt Colston, who recently attended a child exploitation conference in Dublin, told the police authority consultation forum that prostitution was rife in Wolverhampton.

Police officers had targeted the girls, their pimps and kerb crawlers — but the situation had not improved. He will be filing a report to the Chief Constable of West Midlands Police calling for zones of tolerance to be set up where prostitutes can operate without being prosecuted. If agreed, the Home Office will be asked to change the law.

It will mean the end of residents having to put up with girls plying their trade on street corners, unreported assaults and rapes of prostitutes, pimps controlling girls, and kerb crawlers.

He said that the situation could be monitored in a safe environment with help from social workers and health workers. 'We are doing everything we can to address the problem of prostitution but we don't seem to be getting very far.

'Perhaps the way forward is setting up zones of tolerance for the girls so they can work in an environment that is regulated and safe. Yes, it is radical, but other European countries have legalised prostitution.

'I don't know where we would have these zones of tolerance. This needs to be talked about in some depth.'

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Created: October 8, 2002
Last modified: October 8, 2002
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