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Manukau to address street prostitution

 

 

Media Release

4 February 2009

 
Manukau to address street prostitution

Manukau City Council will set up a working party to formulate a plan to address street prostitution in the city. The council's Policy and Activities Committee resolved yesterday that the aim of the plan is to make Manukau free of street prostitution.  

The council is responding to repeated demands from communities where street prostitution has become concentrated - in suburban town centres surrounded by residential housing. The main areas of concentration are Manurewa town centre and Hunter's Corner in Papatoetoe, with some sporadic reports of instances in Otara, Mangere and Old Papatoetoe. A 2005 report by the Prostitution Law Review Committee estimated that there were 423 sex workers in the Counties Manukau Police District, of which 150 were on the street.

Street prostitution creates an unsafe work environment for street sex workers, especially for young persons, says Councillor Dick Quax, the council's community safety portfolio leader, who will lead the working party.

"It provides the most likely entry point for young people into the industry due to its unregulated nature.

"Also, involvement of gangs and organised crime in street prostitution has become evident from the council's CCTV footage, media coverage and community feedback. Street prostitution also attracts offensive litter, disorder, drugs and intimidation. It makes certain areas unattractive to do business in or to live.

"Our communities have been continuously demanding some action."

Prior to the Prostitution Reform Act 2003, prostitution was tolerated until it became of a scale to be considered inappropriate. Communities therefore had the power to either tolerate it or ask the police to enforce the law. Since the Act however, there is a feeling that the behaviour has increased, become more visible and irresponsible. Communities in turn feel powerless to control the behaviour under the current legal regime. In that sense tools similar to the alcohol legislation that allows bans to be implemented where problems exist could prove a useful way of dealing with the harms associated with street prostitution.  

The council's working party is likely to consider various possible recommendations to the government to enable communities to control the negative effects of street prostitution. These recommendations could range from a request for a complete repeal of the Prostitution Reform Act 2003, or to amend the Act so that street prostitution is made illegal nationwide, or amend the Act so that communities and local territorial authorities can choose to make regulation banning street prostitution. Other non-legislative measures will also be considered.  

The working party, comprising councillors, community board members, and representatives from the council and police, will submit its report to the council's Policy and Activities Committee.

ENDS

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