Jacqui Fairbanks, a police community support officer (PCSO) who has been helping sex workers for 10 years, revealed the “desperate” lives of women working on Hessle Road, the city’s red light district.
In 2014, Hull became the first UK city to create a “prostitute-free zone”, allowing sex workers or kerb crawlers caught in the area to be prosecuted. But Ms Fairbanks told the Hull Daily Mail prostitution remained.
“Quite a number suffer from mental health problems and there are issues of trafficking and coercion by pimps and boyfriends,” she said. “But the biggest issue is drugs and many of these women are on the streets to pay for theirs and their partner’s next fix.
“One woman had a baby and, within half an hour, was back out on the streets. That’s how desperate some of these women are.”
Admitting it was difficult to stop prostitution, Ms Fairbanks said most of the 40 sex worker in the area were aged in their twenties or thirties. “Some have been in the sex trade business for a long time. We had one woman come out because her washing machine had broken and she needed some cash to have it fixed,” she said.
As of October 2017, Hull’s anti-prostitution policy had led to the arrest of 29 women and the prosecution of four. Two were sentenced to time in prison, with one given a suspended sentence.
The landmark 2014 ruling introduced section 222 orders, meaning sex workers and kerb crawlers found loitering, soliciting, or having sex could face arrest.
Ms Fairbanks said there was a lack of sympathy for sex workers, partly due to an inaccurate perception they all received state benefits. “This isn’t Pretty Woman I’m afraid. Some rich punter isn’t going to come along and sweep these women off their feet and live happily ever after,” she added.
Join our new commenting forum
Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies