15 April 2016
Within the space of a few weeks in late 2006, a punter called Steve Wright brutally murdered five women involved in street prostitution in Ipswich. In the shocked aftermath, there was a determination in the area to address the awful realities of prostitution. As a result, Suffolk police and local agencies implemented a Nordic Model style strategy to tackle prostitution.
They used the existing kerb crawling legislation to clamp down on punters. Instead of arresting the women, they directed them to local agencies who provided support and exiting assistance. This strategy corresponds to the three key planks of the Nordic Model (firstly decriminalisation of those who are prostituted, secondly providing them with support and exiting services, and finally targeting the punters.)
The University of East Anglia subsequently conducted an independent evaluation of the strategy and concluded that it had been successful in eliminating kerb crawlers and street prostitution, helping women move on from prostitution, and preventing others from becoming involved in prostitution.
The economic analysis of the strategy found that every £1 spent as part of the strategy saved £2 of public money, because there were lower criminal justice and social support costs.
This shows what can be done within the constraints of the current English legislation. However, there are many anomalies within the current legislation, which means that it not effective in tackling indoor prostitution and many local police forces take the opposite approach. We therefore call for a full Nordic Model implementation.