Police call for legal brothels

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The man in charge of policing one of Britain's most notorious red light districts has called on the Government to consider legalising brothels.

Peter Corkindale, head of Bradford's vice squad, said the licensing of brothels would reduce the nuisance caused by kerb-crawlers, stem the rising tide of child prostitution and make life safer for prostitutes and their clients.

Mr Corkindale was speaking in the wake of claims that he had accepted a "tolerance zone" in Bradford where his officers were turning a blind eye to prostitution. He said a newspaper report making the claims was untrue, although his squad was working with Bradford City Council and religious leaders to find solutions to the problems of soliciting and kerb crawling.

"There is no so-called tolerance zone and we have no plans to introduce one or to encourage prostitutes into saunas and massage parlours, as the authorities in Edinburgh have done," he said. "We cannot ignore soliciting for prostitution or the establishment of brothels unless the Government decides to do something about it."He added: "If women were allowed to work for themselves from licensed brothels, paying the owners a rental fee but keeping the rest for themselves, the threat from pimps would be removed and kerb-crawling in residential areas would be unnecessary."

Mr Corkindale's views were echoed by Jack Womersley, chairman of the city council's community safety board. "If the Government turned round tomorrow and introduced a Bill legalising prostitution, there would be an outcry initially but it would produce the legislation necessary to break the cycle of people getting children on drugs and then putting them on to the street to work as prostitutes."

Birmingham, Bristol and Edinburgh councils have considered regulating prostitution but Edinburgh is the only city to have acted, licensing all saunas and massage parlours. This does not enable such businesses to operate as brothels but the council's policy, along with an unspoken police policy of tolerance, has resulted in a regulated sex industry and fewer problems associated with pimps and kerb-crawlers.