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NZ: Prostitute problem 'desperate' (Auckland)

Publish Date: 29 Jul 2011
Source: Manukau Courier
By: Sarah Harvey

Residents of Hunters Corner are "prisoners" in their own homes because of street prostitution and need a law change to reclaim their community, the Otara-Papatoetoe Local Board says.

Chairman John McCracken urged Auckland councillors yesterday to help "desperate" residents by backing a revamped bill giving the council the power to ban street prostitution in certain areas.

Councillors later voted in favour of expanding the area covered by the bill from the old Manukau city to the whole of the Auckland region.

In a DVD shown to councillors, unnamed Hunters Corner residents spoke of being followed by street workers up their driveways and of young children hearing the sounds of people having sex outside their homes.

"It's very frightening because you don't know what is going to happen," one resident says.

One young woman told of being punched in the face through an open car window when stopped at an intersection on her way home from being out clubbing.

Another resident described seeing a street worker sitting on a meter box providing a customer "a service" in broad daylight.

"We have become prisoners in our own home, especially after dark," the resident says.

Mr McCracken says Hunters Corner is a community at its wits end having "lost ownership of its neighbourhood after dark".

Residents have found themselves "powerless to do anything about it".

Attempts have been made to resolve the street prostitution problems including installing better lighting, rubbish bins and CCTV cameras.

"We have followed all those suggestions that have come out of that review of the prostitutes bill – nothing has worked."

Street prostitution is a "legitimate business" but unlike other businesses, can be practised anywhere at any time without zoning restrictions, he says.

Although it isn't widespread in Papatoetoe or Otara, it does "enormous damage" to the few residents and businesses it does affect.

"We live this every day, we lose sleep over this, we clean up after this, we try to protect our kids, our customers and our visitors from this," Mr McCracken says.

He urged councillors to "support our community's desperate bid to get some real tools to regulate street prostitution and restore some balance back into the situation".

Copyright © 2011 Fairfax New Zealand Limited