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Kerbcrawlers arrested in Southend's red light district
4:00pm Tuesday 18th December 2012 in Local News
KERB-CRAWLERS are being targeted in Southend's red light district as part of a change in tactics by police.
Officers have arrested 19 men in the last month on suspicion of cruising for prostitutes in the Ambleside Drive area.
Instead of the emphasis being on street-walkers, police are turning their attention to punters more in order to try and wipe out their custom.
Sgt Ashley Holland, of Southend police, said: "We have been looking at the kerb crawlers as well as the girls and targeting them, which in the past isn't the approach we've taken. Now we've focused on the demand side of the industry rather than the supply."
All of the men admitted the offence and accepted a police caution, rather than face the embarrassment of a court appearance and criminal record. But this option will not be given to anyone who has already got a criminal history, or cautions for any offence.
They will be charged and put before a court.
In the past, the police have sought to punish the girls using a “three strikes and you're out” method of giving them three cautions before making an arrest.
They have then pursued asbos for the most prolific offenders. But it has been a two-pronged approach as they have also been patrolling with CRI (Community Reduction Initiatives)and SMAART (Southend multiple-agency antisocial behaviour response team) to get the women help to kick their drug habits.
Sgt Holland said: "It's working. We've seen a reduction in the amount of kerb crawlers. We have been receiving a lot of positive feedback in the area."
Residents who asked not to be named had mixed views of the police operation.
One resident in Riveria Drive said: “We do get the occasional women in Riviera Drive but it’s a lot less.
“If they’ve not got customers then they are not going to be hanging around.
“There was a time when they were hanging around at 4pm when the kids were still coming out of school.”
She said she was relieved because in the past her son’s girlfriend, who lives in Ambleside Drive, had been approached by a kerb crawler.
Another resident, also in Rivera Drive, said: "I don't think it's improved. They are still at the top of Ambleside Drive and Riviera Drive, mostly young girls. I only see them when I finish work late. They aren't causing any problems from my point of view. But there are a lot of problems around the train station with selling drugs."
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