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'We can't arrest our way out of this' - Police officer's call to close city road to stop kerb crawlers

PUBLISHED: 14:15 23 June 2019 | UPDATED: 14:15 23 June 2019

More Police officers are set to be patrolling Norwich city centre. Sgt Mark Shepherd.
Picture: Nick Butcher

More Police officers are set to be patrolling Norwich city centre. Sgt Mark Shepherd. Picture: Nick Butcher

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The police sergeant in charge of tackling illegal kerb crawlers in Norwich said it was time to consider stopping drivers using the residential road worst affected.

Sergeant Mark Shepherd has called for the council to consider closing Rosary Road to traffic. Photo: Bethany WalesSergeant Mark Shepherd has called for the council to consider closing Rosary Road to traffic. Photo: Bethany Wales

Sergeant Mark Shepherd, who is heading up a crack down on the illegal sex trade in the Rosary Road area of Norwich, said since the operation launched last month there had been 50pc drop in kerb crawling, but that police intervention was not enough to end the problem.

He said: "We can't arrest our way out of this. Ending the sex trade is impossible for us.

"We can keep throwing resources at the problem but long-term the council should consider shutting the road to traffic to prevent kerb crawlers doing laps."

The idea has divided residents.

Police surround a man who has approached an undercover female officer on Rosary Road. Photo: Bethany WalesPolice surround a man who has approached an undercover female officer on Rosary Road. Photo: Bethany Wales

Arthur Allan, 38, lives on The Nest off Rosary Road but said he was not bothered by kerb crawling traffic.

He said: "We live in a city so you expect to hear cars at night. Closing Rosary Road is not going to end prostitution and I'm more concerned about the women who are being exploited in all this.

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"The focus should be on keeping them safe and if that means they are working here, in a well-lit area, then fine."

Sergeant Mark Shepherd heads to speak to a woman suspected of soliciting on St Matthews Road. Photo: Bethany WalesSergeant Mark Shepherd heads to speak to a woman suspected of soliciting on St Matthews Road. Photo: Bethany Wales

But one woman, who has lived on the road for more than 25 years, said kerb crawlers were making her life unbearable.

The 62-year-old said: "I have had to stop going to my swing dancing classes because if I'm out after 7pm kerb crawlers approach me thinking I'm a prostitute.

"It's terrible and closing that road would absolutely make a difference. We shouldn't have to put up with these people."

City councillor for the area Lesley Grahame said finding a long term solution was complicated and that balance had to be struck between protecting vulnerable workers and keeping residents safe.

People living on The Nest, off Rosary Road, have reported issues with kerb crawlers in the area. Photo: Bethany WalesPeople living on The Nest, off Rosary Road, have reported issues with kerb crawlers in the area. Photo: Bethany Wales

The green party councillor said: "People in the area would be really pleased to see any reduction of traffic on Rosary Road, but you have to look at the bigger picture.

"If people have to ply their trade in dark alleys that will present more dangers. The harder it is for them to get clients the more risks they have to take.

"Equally I have sympathy with the residents who have to deal with this on their doorsteps."

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