Street prostitution evident in police ridealong

Street prostitution evident in police ridealong

Perth Police Station officer-in-charge Noel Gartlan and Senior Sergeant Simon Hazell say sex workers have been in the area for years, with residents complaining about their behaviour.

The pair agreed to take the Guardian Express out to see the issue from a police perspective.

The patrol began in visitor parking outside a set of units.

Insp Gartlan said a few weeks ago he stopped a man who had come to the area seeking a sex worker after reading news reports about street prostitution.

As Insp Gartlan tells the story, Sgt Hazell gets out of the car to get a closer look at a man driving a white car.

The man seems to be cruising through the area with no obvious purpose, at one point parking his car and using a public telephone.

The police officers confirm with each other that they have now seen him three times, but they are not sure it is the same man.

But the registration number is the same and they turn on their lights.

His story about passing through the area falls apart when the two officers start questioning him, prompting Insp Gartlan to search his car.

A newspaper opened to the ‘personal columns’ is retrieved.

The man continues to deny that his purpose in the area is to find a sex worker, but Insp Gartlan and Sgt Hazell believe this is the case and issue him a move-on notice, which is the first step officers use to help combat the problem.

Insp Gartlan said that process usually worked to stop men coming back to the area, but sex workers were not as easily turned away.

‘The reality is, a lot of the girls are not out here to pay their bills, it is because they have substance abuse issues, are living in abusive relationships, suffer from mental health issues, or a combination,’ Sgt Hazell said.

We get back in the car and continue to drive through the area. It is a relatively small region to canvass and we find ourselves doing laps. The City of Vincent ranger is also on patrol, updating the street cameras located on key corners in the area.

Aabout 5.30pm, Insp Gartlan spots another white car that he thinks he has seen a few times driving around.

The officers pull the driver over and the man immediately denies being in the area for ‘street prostitution’, a red flag for the police.

After speaking to him further, he is issued with a move-on notice, which will ban him from the immediate precinct for the next 24 hours.

A marked police car arrives in the area about the same time and for the next 20 minutes we continue to pass each other.

By 6pm Insp Gartlan and Sgt Hazell’s shifts are finished, but officers will continue to patrol the area through the night, targeting both men and women.

We have not found any sex workers but evidence of the trade is apparent after pulling over just two men on a Wednesday afternoon.