Prostitutes live a hard life, even when the business itself is legal. "One woman had a baby and, within half an hour, was back out on the streets. That's how desperate some of these women are," police officer Jacqui Fairbanks from Hull, told the press. "This isn't Pretty Woman, I'm afraid. Some rich punter isn't going to come along and sweep these women off their feet and live happily ever after."
Our problem is that these women will not come and deal with us. Their self-esteem is so low that they enjoy the attention they receive and that is really sad.
Many prostitutes come from backgrounds of abuse; many are also homeless. Mental health problems, trafficking and coercion are also common. "Thankfully we don't have any young girls on the streets in Hull," said the officer, claiming that most prostitutes are in their 20s and 30s, with a couple in their 60s.
"We have lads as young as 17 or 18 using these sex workers and the age range goes up to those in their 80s. They are all from different backgrounds and cultures. There are those who are very affluent and those who are unemployed."
"There is a perception that these women are all on benefits but that is not always the case. For many, this is their only source of income," said officer Fairbanks, who claims that there's a lack of sympathy for the prostitutes. "At the end of the day these women are somebody's daughter. I try to tell them they are better than this. But all we can do is off them the help through the different agencies."
The officer is happy, however, that there has been a lot less violence. "We have managed things better now and there is less violence towards these women," she said. "There will always be dodgy pimps and violent boyfriends but, otherwise, the women are quick to tell us if they have been victims of violence. We have a better rapport. It has been around ten years since the last murder of a sex worker."