Dorset

Bournemouth street sex workers 'need help'

Bournemouth's street sex workers need help to steer them away from drug abuse and prostitution, a report has found.

The city's Local Involvement Network (LINk) assessed the health needs of workers and found many sold their bodies to fund addictions to heroin.

It found there was a lack of emergency accommodation for homeless prostitutes and more outreach work was needed.

Bournemouth council said it would work with Dorset Police and the NHS to heed the recommendations in the report.

Of the 17 sex workers interviewed in the LINk report, 14 admitted injecting drugs, predominantly heroin.

'Not enough funds'

Twelve women said they had taken cocaine.

Three said they were sleeping rough and the majority said they would opt for rehabilitation if it was available.

The report follows a drive by Dorset Police to help Boscombe street sex workers change their lives and target kerb crawlers through re-education and conviction.

Police estimate there are 30 sex workers in the town, with many face problems including mental health issues and being exposed to violence, while some have children who are no longer in their care.

Chris Wakefield of Bournemouth LINk said: "At the launch of the police operation last year, it was highlighted that there weren't enough funds if all of these vulnerable ladies said, actually, I need to break this addiction habit now.

'Cycle of addiction'

"It is absolutely essential that the health needs of Bournemouth's street sex workers is given more consideration and key stakeholders provide appropriate care."

Sue Meakin, health improvement manager at Dorset HealthCare University NHS Foundation Trust, said: "These women are in a cycle of addiction and it's really important that we support them through that to get the help they need."

Andy Williams, Community Safety Service Manager at Bournemouth Borough Council said it welcomed the report.

He said: "Whilst the numbers are low, we know that these women are amongst the most vulnerable in our community, and working in partnership with Dorset Police and NHS we are already engaged in activities to reduce the numbers of women working in the street sex trade.

"We will work with Dorset Police and NHS colleagues to take the recommendations of the report forward."

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