KERB crawlers who prey on vulnerable women forced to turn to prostitution could find themselves before a court, police warned today.
Areas of Preston’s red light district in Deepdale are being targeted in a crackdown on prostitution.
Officers say they believe work in the area to help the women is having an effect because often see the same cars driving around for several hours struggling to pick up women.
PC Mark Douglas, of Fulwood Police, said: “ At one time there was a girl on every corner in the Fletcher Road and St Mary’s Street area, we would often see eight or nine women out at a time.
“But these days there are no more than three and on some evenings there are none.
“We think this is testament to the work going on with other agencies such as Streetlink and the Street Pastors to support women and give them an exit out of street sex work by providing them with advice and support.
“ Now we will sometimes see the same car driving around for a couple of hours at a time, obviously because they are struggling to find a sex worker.
“If we actually catch someone in the act picking up a woman we will prosecute them.
“ We want to help clean up the environment and area from a community perspective but we also want to work with other agencies to help get the women off the streets.
The operation was launched in September in response to persistent concerns raised at PACT meetings for the St Matthew’s and St George’s areas.
Several men have already been prosecuted and fined for soliciting the services of the women.
Other people seen loitering in the area have had letters sent to their home addresses warning them that their car has been seen in the area.
PC Douglas added: “ These women often have complex issues that can’t be solved overnight and there are many reasons they turn to street sex work. But there is work going to signpost them to support such as housing advice and drug treatment.”