Friday, January 27, 2006

Kerb Crawling Crackdown

The practice of kerb crawling should be made an offence according to residents, police and politicians in South Belfast. A public meeting in Belfast City Hall was told that many women from Eastern Europe, Africa and Britain are working as prostitutes on the streets of Belfast.

The development of luxurious new apartment blocks in the city centre has brought the matter to a head. Residents complain that they are being mistaken for potential customers or clients and have called for the legislation to be extended. South Belfast MLA, Esmond Birnie said, “The law should be changed to bring it into line with England to make kerb crawling an offence.”

Detective Inspector Jeff Smyth also told the City Hall meeting that there are around 50 brothels in south Belfast, he admitted that as one is shut down, another opens. Many believe that forcing the problem off the streets will only force it underground, leading to a further increase in the number of brothels.

Within England and Wales prostitutes can legally work alone in flats or houses, but new proposals will make it lawful for two prostitutes to work together along with a receptionist or maid. In what might be interpreted as a limited legalisation of brothels, Home Office Minister Fiona McTaggart claimed that it was safer for these women to work together off the street and suggested it would cause little disruption to the local area. “Very small scale operations can operate in a way that is not disruptive to neighbours” she said.

-Should brothels be legalised?
-Is it better to control the problem than ban it completely?


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