Prostitution campaign is ‘successful’

POLICE are hailing a four month long operation to combat prostitution in High Town as a resounding success.

The number of complaints made to officers regarding sex workers and anti-social behaviour in the area have fallen dramatically say police, after an operation involving several other local authorities including Luton Borough Council, began in August.

The three phased campaign was launched after mounting anger from residents.

It included an observation stage where officers talked to sex workers followed by high profile police action and publicity aimed at deterring kerb crawlers.

The latest phase of the campaign, which lasted eight weeks, came to an end last week with the metal lamp post signs and billboard at Dudley Street being removed.

Regular patrols aimed at deterring and arresting kerb crawlers has seen the number of vehicles fall and far fewer people loitering on street corners.

Insp Vicky Miller, of the Central Luton Safer Neighbourhood Team, said: “We thank residents for supporting this campaign.

“A small minority of residents have fed back that they felt the temporary street signs and billboard might damage the reputation of the area and we sympathise with this, which is why we always planned to only use these for two months.

“But we think the three phase approach has really worked to deter the problem and at the last High Town meeting, residents said that they were keen to see the signs and billboard used elsewhere should it be necessary.

“Obviously, the sex trade has been and will continue to be, a longer term problem so the partnership is still actively responding to residents’ concerns.

“Where we’ve heard of sex workers loitering at new locations we’ve visited the affected residents, started observations and redeployed street cleaning services to remove litter and needles.”

The Luton News exclusively revealed in September how Operation Turtle had seen police step up patrols in High Town asking sex workers to move on, issuing warning letters to kerb-crawlers and adding their details to the police Automatic Number Plate Recognition database so they could be easily identified if they reoffended.

Initially, a year-long series of ‘stakeholder meetings’ with long-suffering residents flagged up their worries and concerns. This was followed by Operation Turtle and its precursor Operation Saturn, an initiative aimed at discovering prostitution ‘hotspots’ in High Town.

The Central Luton SNT can be contacted regarding the kerb crawler campaign or any other neighbourhood crime and anti-social behaviour on 01582 394405.