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Police target child prostitutes in Auckland City

Saturday 12 Jun 2010 4:48 p.m.

By Simon Shepherd

Police and social workers have expressed concern over a rise in the number of underage prostitutes in Auckland City.

They say girls as young as 12 are working the streets for gangs, pimps and even their parents.

“On our books we have got over a dozen that we are looking out for, in the age range from 13 to 17,” says Senior Constable Mark Riddell.

Police involved in Operation City Door are targeting underage prostitution on Auckland City’s back streets.

Mr Riddell says police have witnessed an upsurge in the last six to eight weeks.

“The reasons are varied in each case, each one is individual.”

Any one caught pimping out an underage girl could face up to seven years in jail.

Gangs are believed to be running some of the girls.

However Debbie Baker, of the Street Reach support group, says one 12-year-old was working the streets for her parents.

“She was going out there and earning money, taking it home and giving it to her parents.”

Ms Baker says the girl’s parents knew what she was doing.

A 14-year-old girl arrested last night reveals she is working to streets to fund a drug habit.

Police don’t charge the girls, instead calling in CYFS or family.

But it’s not long before they are back on the streets.

One girl who spoke with Ms Baker told he she would work the streets until she dies, aged 30.

“I say, ‘Why 30?’ and she goes, ‘Cos that’s all I think I am worth’,” Ms Baker says.

Her team tries to re-educate the girls, while police want better lighting in the streets.

But underage prostitution has always existed; it used to be Hunter’s Corner in Papatoetoe, now it’s Auckland City.

But with the pressure on in Operation City Door, business will no doubt move somewhere else.

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