Project cleans up street prostitution

JESSICA TASMAN-JONES
Last updated 05:00 30/05/2012
Prostitutes stand outside a bar in a square in the old city, as heads of state met for the Americas Summit in Cartagena.
Reuters
CLEAN UP: Drinking and public urination are among the undesirable side effects of street prostitution in Hunters Corner.

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One of Auckland's most notorious spots for street prostitution is being cleaned up by a council project which has seen CCTV cameras introduced, foot patrols by police and locals, trees pruned and lighting added to deter antisocial behaviour.

Drinking and public urination are among the undesirable side effects of street prostitution in Hunters Corner, Papatoetoe, which the council hopes to prevent.

According to a report, to be presented to the council today, prostitution has proliferated in town centres in Manurewa and Papatoetoe since it was legalised in 2002.

It reveals that between November and January drinking and drug taking accounted for around a third of problems associated with prostitutes in Hunters Corner and nearby Southmall.

Public urination accounted for 12 per cent of problems - something the report concluded was difficult to address when public toilets closed at night time to prevent vandalism.

Other problems included defecating, public sexual acts, violence, excessive noise and littering.

The council initiative, called Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design (CPTED), has increased lighting, cleaned up graffiti and litter, prunned trees and introduced bollards to stop cars driving up walkways.

Residents and businesses have been interviewed, CCTV footage is being monitored and a call centre to take complaints is being proposed.

The measures appeared to have reduced some anti-social behaviour, even though it was too soon to tell if the project has improved safety, or the public's perception of it, the report said.

Prostitute Collective Auckland spokeswoman Annah Pickering says the important outcome was people in the community working together, including sex workers.

She says the collective has been advocating for public toilets to be opened at night since 2009 so street-workers have proper facilities available.

"All urination can't be targeted to one particular group. I'm in South Auckland regularly, there are six nightclubs and bars in that area and the people are preloading before they go out."

The results of the project will be presented to the government select committee considering a proposed bylaw for Auckland to limit street-based prostitution in certain areas.

A report on the proposed bylaw, initially put forward by the Manukau City Council but later adopted by Auckland Council, is due at the end of July.

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Pickering doesn't support the bylaw and believes a non-legislative approach is the best way forward.

"If there's an issue with noise control you call the council, if it's an issue with litter there's a litter bylaw act, if it's an issue around alcohol it's a council issue."

She says anti-social behaviour is not just limited to prostitutes at Hunters Corner and says if the proposed bylaw goes through it will end up criminalising vulnerable people, landing them with fines they can't afford to pay, which will result in them clogging up the prison system.

- Auckland Now

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