Ipswich prostitute deaths: Police crackdown praised

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Media captionA study by the university of East Anglia praises the organisations which have helped women out of prostitution

A crackdown on prostitution in a Suffolk town where five sex workers were murdered has had a "dramatic and visible impact", a report has said.

The University of East Anglia (UEA) studied the prostitution strategy started in Suffolk following the deaths of the five women in Ipswich in 2006.

Researchers said it was a model that could be repeated elsewhere.

Steve Wright, of Ipswich, was jailed for the murders in 2008.

The independent report found the crackdown had been successful in tackling prostitution in the town.

Figures contained in the report showed 128 kerb crawlers were arrested in 2007 and 14 in 2008.

But there were no arrests for the offence in 2009 and 2010.

'Real difference'

Dr Fiona Poland, who led the UEA research team, said: "What worked particularly well was the drive to cut out on-street prostitution by targeting the clients - and not the sex workers themselves.

"We found no evidence that the problem had moved on to the streets beyond Ipswich.

"The joined-up approach of all the agencies involved mean that they now have a clearer strategy to tackle off-street working, trafficking and to identify both young people at risk and their potential abusers."

Image caption Ipswich's prostitution strategy was prompted by the murders of five women by Steve Wright

Researchers found the cost of supporting each victim was just under £7,000 a year, while estimated savings of the intervention was about £80,000 a year against the cost of potential criminal justice proceedings.

The report said there was "much to commend this strategy to other regions of the UK".

It was an "innovative" and "cost-effective" strategy in a "very challenging area of policy-making", researchers said.

But the report said some aspects of the help offered to the women needed to be improved, including access to health services.

'Most vulnerable'

A Make A Difference team was set up in 2007 as part of the strategy, including police, councils, drug workers, probation officers, health workers and border agency staff.

It has supported 124 women and three men to overcome drug addiction, sexual exploitation and prostitution.

It currently provides advice and support to 34 people on a regular basis, as well as 14 children.

Det Supt Alan Caton, of Suffolk police, said: "Together, we have eliminated on-street prostitution from Ipswich without displacing it elsewhere, while helping some of the most vulnerable people in our society get their lives back on track.

"However, the report gives us useful information on where we need to strengthen our partnership and focus our efforts in the future - and this will be key to the success of our new strategy in the years ahead."

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