POLICE have welcomed new initiatives to offer the carrot over the stick to sex workers and kerb crawlers in the Manchester Road area.

Broadgreen has a historic problem with sex workers, and clients will come from far outside the town to take advantage of the trade.

Previous operations to clear the area have seen some success, but police are now seeking support networks to tackle the problem root and branch rather than relying on the courts.

PC Graeme McLaughlin, of the town centre policing team, said there is now a co-ordinated approach to tackling the key areas of the trade, from the drug dealers to the girls themselves.

“We already have a dedicated vice liaison officer who co-ordinates the police activity around sex workers but we know from other areas who have successfully targeted street based sex working that you need to address all four keys areas at the same time,” he said. “These are the girls themselves, the kerb crawlers, those who influence and control the girls such as drug dealers and the environment in which the sex work takes place.

“One of the key things that all agencies recognise is that sex work, in particular street based prostitution, places the women involved at a high risk of harm.”

Clients will also be facing new sanctions as an alternative to prosecution in an attempt to change their behaviour.

“We are also working with colleagues in Avon and Somerset Police and will be jointly running a Change Course for kerb crawlers,” said PC McLaughlin.

“The course will be offered to those who are caught kerb crawling as part of a conditional caution and is an alternative to attending court. The one day course will educate kerb crawlers on the consequences of their behaviour for everyone involved and has been very successful in preventing reoffending in other police areas. The costs of the course are met by those who attend who pay £200 to attend, which is less than the national average for fines handed out by the courts to kerb crawlers.

“The police will continue to deal with the girls for soliciting and loitering but with the support of the new outreach worker and other agencies we are now able to deal with them using conditional cautions and engagement and support orders. The aim will always be for the girls to engage voluntarily with support but if they are convicted or cautioned the new system means that they will be given the opportunity to actively engage with support services rather than face fines or prison”