Police warn they will target kerb crawlers

TAYSIDE Police is to launch a twin offensive against the growing problem of street prostitution in Dundee, it was revealed yesterday.

Prostitutes plying their trade in the city have recently moved out of Dundee's traditional red-light area in the docklands to Blackscroft, a mixed residential and industrial area.

The force has been receiving up to 30 complaints a month from disgruntled local residents as a result.

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Chief Inspector Dave Tonks, the officer in charge of operational policing in Dundee, announced yesterday that in a bid to combat the escalating problem, additional officers are to be drafted in to patrol Blackscroft, targeting kerb crawlers. Meanwhile, 200,000 in funding from the Scottish Government is to be used to help prostitutes leave the sex industry.

"Dundee has its fair share of prostitution but increasingly we have seen criminal activity associated with that - in particular robbery and drug abuse," Chief Insp Tonks said.

"Areas that have been traditional places for prostitution within Dundee have been run-down commercial areas. But they are becoming increasingly residential and, as such, we are seeing a significant rise in the number of complaints and intolerance of the antisocial behaviour which is associated with that activity.

"The Blackscroft area is currently undergoing massive regeneration, both commercial and residential.

"With the increase in new business and housing developments in these areas, there is a rise in the number of complaints about the activities of prostitutes and those who use the services of prostitutes."

Chief Insp Tonks said Tayside Police planned to take a "holistic" approach to the vice trade in the area.

"The traditional approach to policing prostitution has been to use enforcement against the prostitutes themselves," he said. "However, this approach has had little impact on those who engage in this activity and has failed to take account of the underlying reasons why individuals prostitute themselves.

"It has not always dealt with the kerb crawler as a criminal. Without kerb crawlers there would be no on-street prostitution," he said.

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The force is now planning to target kerb crawlers using the new powers to prosecute them due to come into force on 15 October.

In addition, the 200,000 in funding for the Dundee Safety Partnership will be used to help prostitutes to quit their illegal trade.

Chief Insp Tonks explained: "We will be working with our partners to discuss a range of options to support prostitutes to move out of prostitution - that's to do with tackling their drug addiction - and to prevent people falling into prostitution in the first place, particularly youngsters."