Saturday, March 17, 2007

Caught in the vice

Readers outside of the Eastern region may be unaware that the Ipswich police have begun a "crack down" on prostitution in Ipswich involving the heavier use of council and police powers against anyone involved in the "industry" (for instance this).

Last night's local news featured a Labour councillor banging on at length on how he wished to eradicate all prostitution from Ipswich, for good. Good luck mate, although you may have to remove all the human inhabitants first to achieve that end. In fact it is not an insignificant flaw in the plan that what they hope to achieve cannot be achieved, as time will show.

The delusional councillor, David Ellesmere, said this was a "once in a lifetime" opportunity to rid the town of prostitution once and for all. He told the EADT "We've got to do as much as we can to help these women out of these difficult circumstances but if they have received the help and are still going out on the streets then you have got to look at Asbos." Is this a case of "You've had your biscuit now fuck off"?

The East Anglian Daily Times describes how the police and the council are planning the "biggest ever crackdown on prostitution". The plans include increased use of ASBOs, increasing use of new and existing CCTV cameras and focused police presence in areas associated with curb crawling.

Spokeswoman for the English Collective of Prostitutes Cari Mitchell (who had a long, excellent interview on the local news last night) told the EADT "We are horrified the authorities want to introduce a crackdown that has been shown to force women underground and make them more vulnerable to attack. Have no lessons be learned?"

The new measures have already seen sex workers rely increasingly on making contacts via mobile phones and taking less care and time over assessing clients before getting into their cars. Even if the crack down was only against the clients (which it isn't) it would still involve prostitutes having to take greater risks with their own safety in order to continue to work. As with so many such righteous crusades the effects so far have been to further marginalise some of the most vulnerable people in society at no discernable benefit to anyone.

The Suffolk Evening Star reports that local Reverend Andrew Dotchi has said that the criminalisation of sex workers does more harm than good. "It is very easy to say 'get the girls off the streets and you will solve the problem' but the fact remains that there are women in the town with poverty and abuse problems and there needs to be a much more intensive case work approach with women to help them...

"It is all very well to give someone an anti-social behaviour order or lock them away for six months but then their children go into care and we know that the majority of those on the fringes of society come from care. Over the years if you criminalise street workers and habitual drug users you perpetuate the problem and pass it on to the next generation.”

Attempts to "clean up" areas in this way never result in an overall improvement in society. They simply end up moving the workers elsewhere (like Norwich) or pushing the trade into more dangerous avenues. Hardly a satisfactory outcome.


Renegade Eye said...

I wonder if it is an electoral stunt?

Bryan said...

I guess that I don't completely agree with your point. It is better to leave kids home with mom the crack whore? Exposing these women and their johns to STDs and other diseases is OK?

This seems to be the alternative you are proposing. And while I know that no area can be completely cleaned up - 6 months in prison can't be all that bad. Of course, that would imply that you actually build prisons for offenders instead of giving them wallpaper ASBOs or whatever.

Jim Jay said...

Well Byran we do disagree.

Victimising already vulnerable people does not make them, or their children, less at risk of disease, rape, attack, poverty or whatever.

Helping address thier problems does. This crackdown has already meant that street workers are taking less care over selecting thier clients, putting themselves at greater risk... the police and the council can't eradicate prostitution, it's an impossible dream on their part, so the alternative that I am proposing revolves around the legalisation of drugs and prostitution, better jobs, better mental health care and social programmes.

By driving these women further to the periphery of society we don't make them safer or society better in any way - so why do it?

Dandelion said...

Um...why is it not possible to eradicate prostitution? What would "impossibilities" would it take to do so? And why do we have prostitution in the first place?

Jim Jay said...

Convince me its possible dandelion... show me the historical examples where its been done