A group of local body politicians is hoping first-hand stories of encounters with gangs of street prostitutes by residents and business owners in South Auckland will help build political support to ban street prostitution in some areas.
A booklet to be released today will set out the reasons why a bill which will allow the Auckland Council to ban street prostitutes in areas such as near homes, schools or sports grounds is needed. It has the backing of Auckland Mayor Len Brown and is aimed at putting pressure on parliamentarians who will soon have to vote on the bill.
It follows almost a decade of troubles with street prostitution in South Auckland areas such as Hunters Corner since the Prostitution Reform Act passed in 2003.
The booklet was produced by local board chairmen John McCracken (Otara-Papatoetoe), Daniel Newman (Manurewa) and Leau Peter Skelton (Mangere-Otahuhu).
Mr McCracken said residents near Hunters Corner had told stories of intimidation by gangs of prostitutes, of turf-wars between prostitutes and business owners had told of cleaning up human faeces and used condoms from their doorways. "Also, the noise and type of business that is generated, such as vehicles, people yelling, fights over turf have been disturbing for residents in particular," Mr McCracken said.
"We've also got the dilemma of clients looking for prostitutes driving round during the day and women and school children are being propositioned. This has been an ongoing problem for years and years."
He said the likely banned areas would make up only 5 to 10 per cent of the whole of South Auckland. "We are not a bunch of righteous whatevers, we just recognise there needs to be some regulation and controlling the activities of the prostitutes. We want the industry to be safe and to make sure street workers are not interfering with people in their homes. At the moment, we've got people frightened to come out of their homes at night because they have prostitutes working in their driveways."
A previous attempt to outlaw all street prostitution in Manukau was defeated in Parliament in 2006. Mr McCracken said that bill had effectively proposed a blanket ban on street prostitution around Manukau, whereas the revised version provided for it to be banned only in specified places. He said he expected such banned areas to cover only 5 to 10 per cent of Manukau.
The local boards had tried to work with the Prostitutes Collective on a voluntary agreement, but efforts had failed.
The bill would impose fines of $2000 on prostitutes and their clients in areas specified as off-limits and police could arrest people on suspicion of prostitution or soliciting.
Parliament's local government select committee is due to report back on the bill by the end of this month. Christchurch is also watching the progress of the bill closely. Since the earthquake closed down the city's CBD, it has had trouble with street prostitutes in nearby residential areas.