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Prostitution on the rise in Hull

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poverty, prostitution, Hull mothersAn increasing number of women in Hull are prostituting themselves to feed their children.

The Humberside Police Force and the Hull Lighthouse Project, a charity that helps street workers in Hull, blame the increase on welfare reforms and high unemployment rates.

Police Constable Lorraine Summerfield, who patrols an area where prostitutes often seek work, said: “The number of girls working had reduced but, recently, it has flared up again and it is because new girls are going out, who have never done it before.

“Some of these girls are desperate to feed and clothe their children and they are going out to do that, which is really sad.”

Humberside Police hopes that a new campaign will enable women to step away from prostitution.

During the campaign, which launches later this month, police officers and support workers will meet women who are out looking for work and will offer them advice and help.

Police officers will also seek out and challenge people who are looking to pay for sex. First-time offenders will have to attend a course, and people who reoffend may be banned from certain areas of the city.

PC Summerfield, speaking to a local newspaper about the operation, said:  “We have had more complaints from residents, which is why we are launching another project.

“When we have done similar operations, it has worked brilliantly so, hopefully, this will too.

“We want to help the women who are doing it, educate them and reduce the demand by targeting the kerb-crawlers.”

Trained volunteers at the Lighthouse Project are also doing their best to help the women.

They have been handing out food parcels and running their evening drop-in centre, which is used by over 90 per cent of the women who work on the streets of Hull.

Anne Dannerolle, chair of trustees at the charity, said: “We have started to see women who are literally starving and they are out there to feed themselves.

“Often, that is because of benefit cuts or sanctions, when their benefits are taken away from them for a couple of weeks. I have a real concern about that.

“If they have no one to turn to in an emergency, they have to find a way to get money – and that often means crime or going out on the streets.”

She also said she recently saw a woman working on the streets for the first time to raise money for food.

“After that, she carried on coming out and got involved in drugs through being on the streets,” she said. “Many of the women hate what they are doing so much that they take drugs or consume a high level of alcohol to numb it.”

She added: “I suppose it is seen as a crime that hurts nobody – it just hurts themselves.”

Lighthouse staff have so far met over 300 female prostitutes in Hull and enabled over half the women they have developed an ongoing relationship with to exit the sex trade.

As well as tackling prostitution, the charity helps women with domestic violence problems, drug addiction and housing needs.

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