CONCERNED residents have set up nightly patrols to deter sex workers and drug dealers from doing business near their homes.
Community members living in the Normanton Road area have taken the action after seeing an increasing number of prostitutes and kerb crawlers in the area.
Community members are holding nightly peaceful protests to try rid the area of kerb-crawling, prostitution and drug dealing.
They say residents have been too frightened to walk down the street because of the problems and want to make the area feel safe using peaceful persuasion.
Uthman Ali, one of the organisers, told the Derby Telegraph: “There’s always been a problem but recently it’s got really bad.
“Every night now about 15 sex workers gather in Normanton Road. Along with that comes drug users and dealers and anti-social behaviour.
“It’s got to such an extent that people don’t feel safe walking along the road and there are families who are considering moving from the area.”
Over the past few nights, up to 60 men have been on the street between midnight and 2am.
The 27-year-old, who works with youths in Normanton, said: “Since starting the patrols we haven’t seen a single prostitute out there, so it seems to be working.”
Mr Ali said the group had the backing of local residents, businesses and mosques and they had assured police they were not a vigilante group.
Mr Ali, who is formerly of Normanton but now lives in Littleover, said: “We are a peaceful group.
“We realise a lot of the sex workers are in difficult situations and if we can speak to them and help them, then we will do.
“But our main objective is to deter the kerb crawlers because if there are no kerb crawlers then there will be no reason for the prostitutes to be there.”
Police said officers in Normanton and Rosehill had been running an operation since August 2009 to tackle prostitution in the area which is a known red-light spot.
Inspector Richard Keene, who is in charge of policing in the area, said: “Prostitution and the associated problems like drug use is an issue we are tackling head-on.
“Our operation is very much a partnership with local agencies and it’s important that people living in the area are protected and feel reassured that something is being done to tackle their concerns.”
He said police were aware that “a group of concerned local residents” had decided to walk the streets with the intention of discouraging prostitution-related offences.
And added: “We acknowledge their concerns and have no issues with their desire to patrol. Local officers keep in contact with the group throughout the night.
“We will carry on monitoring the situation and have no problems with the group patrolling, as long as they conduct themselves in a peaceful fashion.”
Another organiser of the patrol is Zubair Ahmed, of Speedy Tyres and Exhausts, who said they had decided to step in because what the police were doing had not been effective.
The 36-year-old said: “It’s increasingly bad problem, which needs to be solved. Police either haven’t been doing their job or they don’t have the resources to do it.”
He said their own patrols had scared off pimps and drug dealers.
He added: “If we see any prostitutes then two of us will go up and ask if they need help and tell them we can introduce them to female agencies in Normanton that can help them.”
Since the patrols, organisers say they have had positive feedback from worried residents and local businesses.
Imran Hussain, who owns Mr Chippy in Normanton Road, said he supported the patrols.
The 24-year-old said: “The police have been trying for ages and it hasn’t really made a difference.
“But over the last few nights there haven’t been any prostitutes or junkies out there and we’ve had more customers.
“It has meant families and young people feel safe to walk the streets.”
But not everyone is supportive of this new approach.
Dionne Reid, chief executive of charity Women’s Work, which helps street workers, said that she would not “sanction” the approach being taken.
She said: “I do not know what they expect to achieve and I don’t think they have the interests of the women at heart.”
She said their presence could prove intimidating and they should leave the job to agencies set up to deal with these issues and to the police.
The main focus of the police operation is to deter kerb-crawlers. Since the start of this year, officers have dealt with more than 100 individuals for a variety of offences associated with prostitution and kerb crawling.