GPs among men held in red-light crackdown

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SURGEONS, GPs, factory workers and taxi drivers were among 200 men arrested in a crackdown on prostitution in Hull.

The men had to sign contracts promising not to frequent red-light areas in the city after being caught kerb-crawling.

Pc Jon Barratt, from the missing person and sexual exploitation team, which was set up 18 months ago, said many people thought it was a victimless crime. “People are quite naive about prostitution – they don’t see it as a problem until it is fully explained to them that they are Class A drug dependent.”

Of the 87 men who’ve been sent on a so-called Change rehabilitation course, just two have transgressed.

He said: “It’s basically a way of not having to convict them and diverting them from future kerbcrawling. They get a simple caution but that’s not classed as a criminal conviction because it doesn’t go through the courts.”

There have been seven murders and one attempted murder of prostitutes in Hull and in the past investigations have been hampered by lack of intelligence.

Pc Barratt, a divisional prostitution and vice tactical advisor, said they’d managed to gain the girls’ trust: “The girls speak to us while they may not talk to uniformed officers and we get some fantastic intelligence. They will tell us about dodgy punters, they will report rapes to us, whereas previously they may not have had trust in the police.”

In Hull prostitution occurs the length of Hessle Road – more recently towards the Daltry Street flyover – and in the “traditional” red-light district of Myton Street and Osborne Street.

The police’s approach appears to have been successful - with numbers of girls working the streets dropping from 100 to between 18 and 25. Women are given a “yellow card” and cautioned before being referred to other organisations for help.

They only land up in court if they receive two yellow cards in three months.

Pc Barratt said: “We have some girls who have worked the streets for years who have been sign-posted into treatment and stopped working on the streets and people have listened to them and got the help they needed.

“You will get some girls who don’t want help – but 95 per cent of them do.”