Decision on how to prevent prostitutes working in residential Christchurch delayed
A decision on how to resolve prostitutes working in residential areas has been delayed.
The Christchurch City Council was due to discuss the issue at Thursday's meeting, but a staff report considering various options has been delayed until May 25.
A council spokeswoman said staff needed more time to assess the options, which involved talking to staff from several units.
Central Christchurch resident Andrew Huntley, who has launched a petition to get the council to ban prostitutes soliciting in residential areas, said he hoped the delay meant the council was giving serious consideration to the directions it could take.
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He hoped the council would not put the issue in the "too hard basket".
Huntley and St Albans residents have put pressure on the council to stop prostitutes working in residential areas.
Matt Bonis pleaded with the council last month to use the public places bylaw, but the council had been reluctant to use the bylaw and said last month there were challenges regarding effective enforcement.
Bonis said he hoped the council was taking time to come up with a robust platform to provide a proactive bylaw that clarified that as a commercial activity, street work would be undertaken in commercial areas, with infringements issued in residential zones.
Council strategic policy head Helen Beaumont last month said the council was part of an interagency group – along with police, Salvation Army and the New Zealand Prostitutes' Collective – that was progressing initiatives to resolve the concerns.
"Prostitution is not illegal in New Zealand and there is little the council can do to reduce this activity."
Bonis told the council that women were soliciting business all hours of the day, even in the morning, when children were being dropped off at a neighbouring pre-school.
"We have an unregulated commercial activity happening outside our home 24 hours a day, seven days a week."
Residents have had to clean up faeces, used condoms, needles and used wet wipes left in their letterboxes. Their children have been woken up by prostitutes yelling and singing to each other and arguing with clients over prices.
The tensions between sex workers and communities will become part of a new two-year study by University of Otago Christchurch researcher associate professor Gillian Abel looking into the impact of decriminalisation.
"Addressing this issue has the potential to explore other avenues to addressing tension between them," she said.
Tensions between Christchurch inner-city residents and sex workers had been well-publicised, but moving sex workers into less populated areas could increase their vulnerability, she said.
The study, funded by the Lotteries Commission, would also look at council perceptions of the regulation of street-based sex workers and the relationship between underage street workers and their minders, pimps or boyfriends, and whether young workers were being coerced to work against their will.
Sex workers' experiences of violence and exploitation on the streets would be looked at along with the relationship between sex workers and police.