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East Lancashire prostitutes report rise in attacks
12:00pm Monday 30th December 2013 in News
PROSTITUTES are reporting being violently attacked on a daily basis in Blackburn.
One sex worker said she had been threatened with a knife and throttled after taking a client into an alleyway.
It comes as police announced they were using new tactics to tackle prostitution in the town.
Officers said that instead of arresting the girls, they planned to work with them to identify ‘dodgies’ who were coming into the town and causing problems.
They also aim to give them help and support so they no longer feel their only alternative is to work the streets and would also be looking out for kerb crawlers.
Sgt Graham Marshall, who is responsible for the Bank Top area, said: “It is very, very new. The relationship we have is very fragile.
“The women have information about the ‘dodgy’ people who are visiting and we are trying to improve our relationship with them by trying to protect them.
“Any complaints we get from residents we are feeding back to the women and we are looking to move them away from that area. “The long-term solution is to get them off the street.
“The prostitutes are not a threat to the community at all, but the people passing through are.
“There have certainly been two individuals who are quite a concern to us.”
Sgt Marshall said it was believed the increase in attacks being reported was down to trust being built up between the woman and agencies seeking to help them.
He said incidents had been “happening on a daily basis”. The new approach is modelled on tactics used in Liverpool, where conviction rates for rapes against sex workers have soared.
Among the methods being used include officers in unmarked cars watching for vehicles who drive through the red light district repeatedly looking for girls.
Hotspot areas in Blackburn include Dixon Street, King’s Street and Harrison Street.
Sgt Marshall said previously when the women were arrested, they appeared in court and would be fined £80.
He said: “It is just not working. “It is effective for that night, but they are back out again to pay their fine.”
It is estimated there are around 20 women working as prostitutes in Blackburn, with around five on the streets at any one time.
Sgt Marshall said there had also been reports of one male prostitute and punters asking for young girls.
One woman, who asked to remain anonymous, told the Lancashire Telegraph she had turned to prostitution to be able to afford Christmas presents, despite being three-months pregnant.
The 28-year-old, who also has a two-year-old son, said: “It is not something I really want to do.
“My benefits have been stopped so I am just doing it for living expenses. Most girls are on drugs, so they do it for that.
“But I am just doing it to pay my bills and to get a bit of extra money for Christmas. I will stop when I have my baby. I hate going out.
“I have a long criminal record and I have been in and out of jail since I was 17. But I would rather do this than go out committing crime.”
She described one attack in which a man threatened her with a knife. “He was on drugs, but that is not an excuse,” she said.
“I went behind an off-licence with him. He had me pinned in the corner.
“I asked him for cash and he grabbed me and spun me around.
“He started strangling me and he pulled a knife out.”
When the Lancashire Telegraph spoke to another prostitute, she said she was aware of the help the police and their partners were making available.
Sgt Marshall said: “Working with them, we are safeguarding them.
“We ask them ‘how are you?’
“We know a lot of them by sight and we ask them things like ‘is there anybody ‘dodgy’ around tonight?’. “
It is a very dark area and we give them advice such as not to get into a car with two people on board, to be particularly careful with cars with blacked-out windows.
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