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Crack Turning More Girls
Into Slaves To Sex
Pimps Make More Profits As Prostitutes Work Around
The Clock To Fund Their Expensive New Drug Habit

By Tony Thompson
Crime Correspondent
The Observer - UK
10-13-3

A massive increase in the amount of crack cocaine being used by prostitutes is sending shock waves through the vice world, The Observer can reveal.
 
Prostitutes have traditionally been heroin users, but in an attempt to maximise their profits crack dealers and pimps are deliberately targeting the streetwalkers.
 
The drug has been introduced to the prostitutes in 'party packs', which contain £10 worth of heroin and two 'free' rocks of crack. The trend is particularly prevalent in Bristol, where each of the city's 200 prostitutes spends an average of £1,100 a week on crack. Police estimate that this market alone is worth more than £11 million a year.
 
Switching to the highly addictive drug has made many prostitutes so desperate for their next fix that they have lowered their prices. Drug workers in Hull say dozens of teenagers are now offering sex for as little as £5 in order to feed their crack habit. In London's King's Cross, dozens of women offer passing men unprotected sex for £10 - the price of a single rock in the capital.
 
One drugs liaison officer told The Observer: 'When you mix crack and prostitution it becomes a 24-hour cycle. You go out and you work long enough to go and get a rock, then you go away and use it and then you go out and do the same all over again. Eventually you need some sleep, so you take heroin in order to come down. Then you wake up and it starts all over again. Crack has become the new pimp and the girls are working harder than ever for it.'
 
Jan, a drugs worker with Streetreach, a Doncaster-based project that offers a range of support services, said: 'There has been a definite increase in the level of crack ... the vast majority are using both crack and heroin. Part of the reason is that the drug is just so much more available.'
 
Yvonne Oliver, director of the Ripple Project, which helps addicts in Bradford, says the increase in the use of crack also reflects changes in the nature of vice girls. 'During my MA I carried out research into adolescent prostitution and found the background of those involved was changing. It used to be typically someone with low self-esteem ... who would get involved and then start taking drugs in order to cope with the reality of what they were doing. Now it is different. We find there are lots of kids from good homes and good backgrounds who first get involved in drugs, get addicted and then are forced into prostitution as a way of supporting their habits.'
 
Many of the girls say they were introduced to crack by their pimps, who prefer it because the high it provides lasts minutes rather than hours and the girls can spend more time on the streets earning money. Crack also leaves fewer immediately obvious physical effects: heroin addicts often look unwell and find it difficult to attract clients.
 
'Heroin was previously the drug of choice because one of its effects is to make you not give a shit about what you are doing,' says Oliver. 'But after a while, the sense of euphoria and oblivion that heroin provides starts to fade and you end up taking it just to feel normal. Crack is the next step and provides a new buzz.'
 
Figures obtained from the latest round of compulsory testing of offenders in Bradford show that half of all those charged with theft, burglary and robbery are testing positive for either heroin or crack cocaine. Half of those found to be using drugs have both heroin and crack in their bloodstream when they are arrested.
 
Asian drug dealers who would previously deal only with heroin are now selling crack as well. In one recent seizure, an Asian teenager was found to be holding 24 wraps of the drug. Detectives say they are determined to prevent crack from taking hold in the way that heroin previously has, but many users believe they are fighting a losing battle because the drug is so powerful.
 
Use of crack cocaine is spreading rapidly. In Scotland in 1999, only 2 per cent of drug users said they used it. The most recent figures show this has now increased to 7 per cent. In England and Wales, drug seizures overall have risen by 10 per cent in the past year, but the amount of crack cocaine seized during the same period has more than doubled.
 
Nicola, 27, a former prostitute, spent 18 months working on the streets of Bradford. She initially moved into vice in order to feed her heroin habit but was quickly introduced to crack cocaine. 'Crack totally and utterly took over my life. I never saw daylight ... I would be out working, spend the money on crack and then go right back out to earn more. Nothing else mattered apart from getting the money to get the drugs.'
 
One night she was approached by a punter and agreed to sex for £20. But as she reached into her bag for a condom, the man suddenly produced a foot-long knife, stabbed her 43 times and left her for dead.
 
Nicola survived and has now rebuilt her life. 'It was absolutely horrendous - I nearly died - but in many ways the attack made me a stronger and better person. It was the wake-up call I needed to turn my back on drugs and prostitution.'
 
Guardian Unlimited © Guardian Newspapers Limited 2003
 
http://observer.guardian.co.uk/uk_news/story/0,6903,1061191,00.html
 

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