Politicians have welcomed a police pledge to tackle Peterborough’s prostitution problem after street workers and kerb crawlers have made residents’ lives a misery for too long.
From used condoms littering the floor to drug issues related to the trade, residents living in and around Burghley Road in the city have become used to the anti-social behaviour that street prostitution brings.
Speaking to The Peterborough Telegraph this week, Superintendent Neil Billany, the new Cambridgeshire police area commander for Peterborough and Fenland, said tackling the issue was one of his main priorities.
The news that Supt Billany would be focusing on the issue has been welcomed by politicians in the area.
Peterborough MP Paul Bristow said residents in the area had been raising the problem for a number of years - but had felt police had not dealt with the issue.
He said; “The problem has been that this has almost been tolerated in the city. But there have been a number of residents who are determined not to tolerate it.
“People are having to deal with used contraception all over the street, noises going on late into the night, kerb crawlers, children being approached.
“I am pleased to see the new commander is looking at it. I raised it with him when I met him a couple of weeks ago, and it has felt like it has not been a focus for police.
“It is these everyday issues that are impacting people’s quality of life.
“I am a big believer in the broken window theory - if we crack down on the small issues, then the environment for the bigger crimes is reduced.
“It is time the perpetrators of these offences start to feel scared that the police will come and prosecute them.”
Central ward councillor Mohammed Jamil also welcomed the news that police will be focusing on the issue.
He said; “The problem of prostitution in the Burghley Road area is something the residents have long complained about.
“As ward councillors we have tried in vain to get the police to take action, however, we have always been told that this is not a priority for them.
“I have attended many meetings with residents, council officers and police and no real long term solutions are ever developed.
“I am deeply encouraged by the comments made by the new area commander and look forward to working with him to resolve the problem of prostitution and the related drugs issue.”
Speaking to The Peterborough Telegraph this week, Supt Billany said of his experience of moving from The Met Police in London to Peterborough; “One of the things we had was a long standing problem with street prostitution. I quickly learnt we have a similar problem with it here around Burghley Road and the area around there.
“It is these sort of problems that frustrate anybody.
“People will always bring it back to the things that really affect them and their quality of life.”
Park ward councillor Shaz Nawaz said more support was needed for the sex workers, as well as residents. He said; “It is a well-known fact that sex workers have been operating on Burghley Road for over two decades.
“There are two parts to this situation. The first is that better support needs to be in place for sex workers. I hear of stories of how women have been trafficked and forced to work against their will. It is crucial that we offer the right level of help on the frontline. “The other part is that residents have been complaining about sex workers for as long as they have been operating on Burghley Road. Residents tell me they have seen an increase in drug dealing on the street, undesirable behaviour, antisocial behaviour and fighting among other things. This is a huge issue for residents.
“I would like to see better support for sex workers as many of them are working against their will and being exploited from what I hear. That includes practical and emotional support so that those women who wish to exit the trade are able to do so with confidence.
“I also want to see Burghley Road patrolled better so that sex workers do not operate there or on any other street because this is not good for residents or the locality. It’s a case of people working together so that we create better outcomes for everyone involved or affected.”