Chron Comment: February 8

Prostitution is often referred to as the oldest trade of all and for good reason: Despite all the efforts of law enforcement down the ages, it has always lingered on.

Only a few years ago, the Semilong and Spring Boroughs area of Northampton was plagued with vice-related problems prompting a massive drive by the police and other agencies to tackle the problem.

The former red light zone is now - to all intent and purposes - clear of sex workers, but one of the groups that has done so much to help vulnerable women at risk of falling into prostitution has warned its own demise could trigger a return of sex workers to the area.

The SWAN project’s funding has run out and the service will close completely at the end of the month. They have helped hundreds of women since they started, but now an inevitable void will open up with their passing, a passing caused by county council and health authority cuts.

The Government has spent nearly three years going on about austerity and the financial black hole left by the previous Labour Government, a mantra which has forced difficult funding decisions to be made at a local level.

The SWAN project is just such a victim. We hope their dire predictions don’t come true, but watch this space.