Beds, Herts & Bucks

Luton sex worker strategy is working, police say

Media captionA year-long crackdown on prostitution in Luton has led to a decrease in complaints

A crackdown on prostitution in Luton is having an impact with complaints from residents falling, police have said.

Bedfordshire Police's Operation Turtle, which has increased patrols in the High Town area, has led to 265 arrests, including 186 for kerb crawling.

Complaints from those living there fell from 43 in January 2013 to seven in November.

But some residents said they had "not seen any improvement" and the problem was getting worse.`

As part of the crackdown, which aims to stop street working, anti-social behaviour and crime in High Town, regular police patrols take place in the area.

Special constable Matthew Statham said: "When we started the operation we expected to deal with six or seven kerb crawlers a night.

"As the year has gone on, numbers have dropped to one or two a night and sometimes not any at all, purely because I think they are aware of the police presence in the area."

But one resident, who wished to be known only as Jennifer, said she had lived there for five years and had not seen any improvement.

"It's getting worse, I am seeing prostitutes all the time, every day, there is drug dealing as well," she said.

"The police have been to our house about three times and nothing has been done."

The Police and Crime Commissioner for Bedfordshire, Olly Martins, said they were "starting to make progress" and were "there for the long haul".

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