Liverpool ready to create Britain's first official zone for sex workers

The high road through Everton Brow, 300ft above Liverpool, is lined with signs warning motorists: "Kerb-crawlers beware - police patrol area." But they did not deter the teenager in micro-skirt and knee-length boots who marched along in search of some early business at 11.30 yesterday morning.

The high road through Everton Brow, 300ft above Liverpool, is lined with signs warning motorists: "Kerb-crawlers beware - police patrol area." But they did not deter the teenager in micro-skirt and knee-length boots who marched along in search of some early business at 11.30 yesterday morning.

The girl was interested by the approach of a car but she was not in the mood for talking. When business is dead, this is the time of day when prostitutes like her will pay their pimps a cut of last night's earnings (£200 if they're lucky) and pick up their next fix of heroin. So in temperatures just above freezing, she strutted off up Netherfield Road, beyond the boarded- up tenement blocks which mark out one of Britain's most impoverished districts.

Today, Liverpool council is expected to set in motion its plans to end such solitary, dangerous journeys, which the city's 100 prostitutes take most days, by voting to establish Britain's first "managed zones" for sex workers. The council is likely to seek Home Office approval for five zones which will remove prostitutes from residential areas such as Everton Brow and introduce them to patrolled, well-lit areas in light industrial districts.

The option was put to all local authorities in a Green Paper published last August by former Home Secretary, David Blunkett, and for regulars at the Inn on the Hill pub, on Everton Brow, the change cannot come soon enough. Ever since the city's prostitutes were driven up here by the gentrification of the Edwardian properties at their former haunt near the Anglican cathedral, locals such as Keith Goulding have been adjusting to life in a red-light zone.

Any woman who walks Netherfield Road is a target for kerb-crawlers: from the women's darts team from the pub, who have taken to leaving in groups after Tuesday night matches, to Mr Goulding's wife, who is in her sixties. "Can you believe it? They just pull up and ask her: 'Hey love, how much?'," Mr Goulding said yesterday.

The demolition of several local tenements has removed some of the prostitutes, by obliterating the secluded spots they provided. But the mid-evening procession of prostitutes into the pub, to take cover from police and inject themselves in the lavatories, remains as much a part of life as ever. As does the occasional murder. The body of one woman who walked the Brow was found dismembered in a bin bag in nearby St Domingo Vale last year.

The solution to all this has been uncovered by public health scientists at Liverpool John Moores University (LJMU), who examined so-called "tipple zones" introduced to light industrial areas at Utrecht, in Holland. When businesses there close at 7.30pm, a red-light district opens up. Prostitutes are picked up in an area at the front of industrial buildings and take their clients to clinically titled "finishing-off areas" for sex. "The areas are patrolled by police or neighbourhood patrol teams to make sure rules are obeyed and the girls are not [attacked]" said LJMU's professor of public health, Mark Bellis.

The idea, which builds on the unofficial toleration zones for prostitutes tried in Edinburgh and Glasgow, has found support from a city council desperate to clean up the streets in time for its year as European Capital of Culture in 2008. Consultation has found more than 80 per cent in agreement that managed zones - earmarked for central Kempston Street and Jamaica Street - would allow better policing of prostitution.

But many have their doubts. Kevin Baker, who runs a printing business in Jamaica Street, dismissed the notion that the industrial units stop work at 7.30pm. "I finish at 10pm, or later if I've got an order on, and I don't fancy walking out of the door straight into a prostitution zone," he said. The professional occupants of two property developments under construction in the area may soon feel the same.

Leanne Latimer, 21, a mother, was another sceptic. "The prostitutes get beaten up anyway but once people know where to find them, they'll have a very bad time," she said.

Her views matched those of Jenny, a prostitute. "It's a bogus argument about safety because the areas are out of the way [and] not safe," Jenny said. "If everybody knows where they are working it leaves them open to attack, either entering or leaving, as people know they are going to earn money."

A city councillor, Flo Clucas, delegated to take the lead on the issue, admits that getting women out of prostitution altogether is the ultimate goal. A city-wide project offering prostitutes education, advice and clothes will begin in April, with that aim in mind.

Susan Sarandon described David Bowie as
peopleSusan Sarandon reveals more on her David Bowie romance
Lewis Hamilton walks back to the pit lane with his Mercedes burning in the background
Formula 1
Arts and Entertainment
The new characters were announced yesterday at San Diego Comic Con
comic-con 2014
Arsenal supporters gather for a recent ‘fan party’ in New Jersey
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
Arts and Entertainment
No Devotion's Geoff Rickly and Stuart Richardson
musicReview: No Devotion, O2 Academy Islington, London
Bryan had a bracelet given to him by his late father stolen during the raid
A rub on the tummy sprang Casey back to life
sportDidier Drogba returns to Chelsea on one-year deal
Arts and Entertainment
The Secret Cinema performance of Back to the Future has been cancelled again
Life and Style
Balmain's autumn/winter 2014 campaign, shot by Mario Sorrenti and featuring Binx Walton, Cara Delevingne, Jourdan Dunn, Ysaunny Brito, Issa Lish and Kayla Scott
fashionHow Olivier Rousteing is revitalising the house of Balmain
Arts and Entertainment
Christian Grey cradles Ana in the Fifty Shades of Grey film
filmFifty Shades of Grey trailer provokes moral outrage in US
BBC broadcaster and presenter Evan Davis, who will be taking over from Jeremy Paxman on Newsnight
peopleForget Paxman - what will Evan Davis be like on Newsnight?
Life and Style
fashionCustomer complained about the visibly protruding ribs
newsComedy club forced to apologise as maggots eating a dead pigeon fall out of air-conditioning
Arts and Entertainment
Jo Brand says she's mellowed a lot
tvJo Brand says shows encourage people to laugh at the vulnerable
Life and Style
People may feel that they're procrastinating by watching TV in the evening
Tovey says of homeless charity the Pillion Trust : 'If it weren't for them and the park attendant I wouldn't be here today.'
Rhys Williams
commonwealth games
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Day In a Page

Evan Davis: The BBC’s wolf in sheep’s clothing to take over at Newsnight

The BBC’s wolf in sheep’s clothing

What will Evan Davis be like on Newsnight?
Finding the names for America’s shame: What happens to the immigrants crossing the US-Mexico border without documents who never make it past the Arizona desert?

Finding the names for America’s shame

The immigrants crossing the US-Mexico border without documents who never make it past the Arizona desert
Inside a church for Born Again Christians: Speaking to God in a Manchester multiplex

Inside a church for Born Again Christians

As Britain's Anglican church struggles to establish its modern identity, one branch of Christianity is booming
Rihanna, Kim Kardashian and me: How Olivier Rousteing is revitalising the house of Balmain

Olivier Rousteing is revitalising the house of Balmain

Parisian couturier Pierre Balmain made his name dressing the mid-century jet set. Today, Olivier Rousteing – heir to the house Pierre built – is celebrating their 21st-century equivalents. The result? Nothing short of Balmania
Cancer, cardiac arrest, HIV and homelessness - and he's only 39

Incredible survival story of David Tovey

Tovey went from cooking for the Queen to rifling through bins for his supper. His is a startling story of endurance against the odds – and of a social safety net failing at every turn
Backhanders, bribery and abuses of power have soared in China as economy surges

Bribery and abuses of power soar in China

The bribery is fuelled by the surge in China's economy but the rules of corruption are subtle and unspoken, finds Evan Osnos, as he learns the dark arts from a master
Commonwealth Games 2014: Highland terriers stole the show at the opening ceremony

Highland terriers steal the show at opening ceremony

Gillian Orr explores why a dog loved by film stars and presidents is finally having its day
German art world rocked as artists use renowned fat sculpture to distil schnapps

Brewing the fat from artwork angers widow of sculptor

Part of Joseph Beuys' 1982 sculpture 'Fettecke' used to distil schnapps
BBC's The Secret History of Our Streets reveals a fascinating window into Britain's past

BBC takes viewers back down memory lane

The Secret History of Our Streets, which returns with three films looking at Scottish streets, is the inverse of Benefits Street - delivering warmth instead of cynicism
Joe, film review: Nicolas Cage delivers an astonishing performance in low budget drama

Nicolas Cage shines in low-budget drama Joe

Cage plays an ex-con in David Gordon Green's independent drama, which has been adapted from a novel by Larry Brown
How to make your own gourmet ice lollies, granitas, slushy cocktails and frozen yoghurt

Make your own ice lollies and frozen yoghurt

Think outside the cool box for this summer's tempting frozen treats
Ford Fiesta is UK's most popular car of all-time, with sales topping 4.1 million since 1976

Fiesta is UK's most popular car of all-time

Sales have topped 4.1 million since 1976. To celebrate this milestone, four Independent writers recall their Fiestas with pride
10 best reed diffusers

Heaven scent: 10 best reed diffusers

Keep your rooms smelling summery and fresh with one of these subtle but distinctive home fragrances that’ll last you months
Commonwealth Games 2014: Female boxers set to compete for first time

Female boxers set to compete at Commonwealth Games for first time

There’s no favourites and with no headguards anything could happen
Five things we’ve learned so far about Manchester United under Louis van Gaal

Five things we’ve learned so far about United under Van Gaal

It’s impossible to avoid the impression that the Dutch manager is playing to the gallery a little