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New steps to curb prostitution

No licensed 'red light districts' please, we're British. But two or three prostitutes working in 'mini-brothels' is fine.

india Updated: Jan 19, 2006 12:21 IST

No licensed 'red light districts' please, we're British. But two or three prostitutes working in 'mini-brothels' is fine.

Keen to reduce the number of prostitutes, the government has set out plans to allow two or three prostitutes in 'mini-brothels', but will take tough steps against soliciting customers in cars along road - better known here as 'kerb-crawling'.

Reports say that there are nearly 80,000 prostitutes in Britain. The government plans to initiate a drive to help prostitutes overcome addiction to drugs and drink. Under the plans, only prostitutes working on their own are allowed to sell sex without committing an offence.

Publishing the plans, which cover England and Wales, Fiona Mactaggart, the home office minister, denied that the government was "encouraging the commercial sale of women's bodies".

She said: "I think the evidence that women working on their own are putting themselves in danger is powerful." She added that "very small-scale operations" such as "mini-brothels" could be run without offending neighbours.

Steps are to be initiated to "rigorously prosecute" kerb-crawlers, which includes impounding their driving licences. Warning signs to motorists are likely to be put up in red-light districts telling them that the area was being monitored by closed-circuit television cameras.

The government has dropped plans earlier outlined by former home secretary David Blunkett to allow local councils to designate "managed prostitution zones" or licensed red-light districts. The idea was first mooted by the Liverpool City Council.

Reports say that the latest plans were welcomed by police chiefs but Mark Oaten, the Liberal Democrats home affairs spokesman, said: "It will do very little to reduce the number of prostitutes on the street, improve the appalling conditions they work in or tackle health problems."

The Conservative party said that more needed to be done to tackle the underlying social problems which caused prostitution.

First Published: Jan 19, 2006 12:21 IST