The information provided above is only a generalized description of street prostitution. You must combine the basic facts with a more specific understanding of your local problem. Analyzing the local problem carefully will help you design a more effective response strategy.
Police are not solely responsible for addressing this problem. In addition to criminal justice agencies, the following groups have an interest in the street prostitution problem, and you should consider the contribution they might make to gathering information about the problem and responding to it:
The following are some critical questions you should ask in analyzing your particular problem of street prostitution, even if the answers are not always readily available. Your answers to these and other questions will help you choose the most appropriate set of responses later on.
There are many ways to enlist community members in the task of gathering information to document the problem’s scope.  These include using handheld video cameras to record activity, taking guided walks with police to identify areas where residents feel unsafe, highlighting trouble spots on neighborhood maps, and using data collection forms to record the date, time, and nature of events they witness.
† The Raleigh (North Carolina) Police Department conducted a problem-solving project using this guide’s first edition. Refer to Weisel (2004) for an excellent example of adapting the processes described here to local conditions. The report also contains useful sample survey tools for prostitutes and clients.
You should take measures of your problem before you implement responses, to determine how serious the problem is, and after you implement them, to determine whether they have been effective. Measurement allows you to determine to what degree your efforts have succeeded and suggests how you might modify your responses if they are not producing the intended results. There are various ways to quantify the size and scope of the problem to establish a baseline. You could track the total number of police contacts with prostitutes in the past 12 months, the number of prostitutes regularly seen or cautioned in an area, or the average number of women working on any given night. These data will be useful for different purposes: to estimate social service needs, as a point of reference for enforcement operations, or as a measure of police effectiveness.  †For more detailed guidance on measuring effectiveness, see the companion guide to this series, Assessing Responses to Problems: An Introductory Guide for Police Problem-Solvers.
† The Deter and Identify Sex Trade Consumers database, accessed by 36 police agencies across Canada and the United States, provides information on prostitutes and clients to support police investigations [Vancouver (British Columbia) Police Department Vice Unit 2002]. To be most effective, as many jurisdictions as possible need to use and receive information from multijurisdiction databases. In addition, data fields must be sufficiently detailed and data entry must be monitored for quality control.
The following are potentially useful measures of the effectiveness of responses to street prostitution:
† Depending on the response strategy, arrests (and rearrests) of prostitutes and clients may increase initially. Over time, if the responses are effective, you should observe a reduction in the number of arrests.
†† Responses that reduce the number of prostitutes working in an area tend to drive prices up, whereas responses that reduce the number of clients soliciting in a particular area tend to drive prices down.
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