Prostitution laws should be amended to keep brothels out of residential areas, say two-thirds of New Zealanders surveyed in a new poll.

But the poll and its results have angered the national prostitutes collective, which says recriminalising the profession would be unrealistic and unsafe.

Out of 1000 people polled last month, 66 per cent thought the law should be amended to ban brothels in residential areas.

Twenty-six per cent did not think the law should change, and 8 per cent were unsure.

Respondents were also asked whether the law should be amended to ban street prostitution. Fifty per cent said yes, 33 per cent said no, and 17 per cent were unsure.

Family First spokesman Bob McCoskrie hoped the poll result would give the Government the "green light to get the red light out of residential areas".

He said people living near residential properties where prostitutes worked often complained about the traffic, noise and late-night visits.

Residents were also concerned about men looking for the brothels mistakenly visiting nearby homes trying to find sex workers.

"It is a national disgrace that we are exposing our children and families to this type of activity and level of risk," he said.

"The association of prostitution with gang and criminal behaviour, alcohol and drug abuse, underage prostitution, and sexual abuse and violence means that we are sentencing more and more young people and prostitutes to an unacceptable situation."

New Zealand Prostitutes Collective national co-ordinator Catherine Healy said the poll was "frustrating".

She said it was important for sex workers to be allowed to work within the present laws.

"If the law is unrealistic it can have the effect of undermining sex workers and their clients in all sorts of critical areas such as health and safety," she said.

"There are people who come up with legislative solutions which would favour a small class of big brothel operators who have the means to operate in the business zone in the city by outlawing home- based sex workers. It is very important that sex workers have the option to work for themselves or with one or two others as it keeps exploitation in check too."

She said home-based sex workers saw only a few clients on average a week.

"And they are normally quiet and unobtrusive. Most people think that residential brothels are big places but this is not true."

Ms Healy said there was no sense in outlawing street-based sex work.

"The old laws did not make a dent in the amount of sex work that occurred, it just made it very unsafe for large numbers of people."

Mr McCoskrie believed more people would back the banning of street prostitution if they had to face it in their every-day lives.

"The response to this question was lower because many respondents around the country haven't had to face up to the problems of street prostitution that businesses and communities have had to face in areas such as South Auckland, central Auckland and Christchurch."

Curia Market Research did the polling on three evenings of last month from a random selection of 1000 people. Curia said the margin of error for the poll was 3.2 per cent.