THEY operate in the shadows,hanging around on street corners touting for trade.
They are seen by many as a scourge, a blight on communities, who lower the tone and badger anyone they see.
Of course, there is no shortage of men willing to do business with Blackpool’s street prostitutes – and they seemingly know no fear.
They live a gruelling existence, operating on Central Drive – a short distance away from the home of Blackpool FC – as they sell their bodies to pay a bill or feed their habit.
The story of a 41-year-old prostitute, who huddles in a corner of Palatine Road each night, sheltering from the grim conditions, is not uncommon.
After being lured to Blackpool from Glasgow with the promise of a cleaning job in January, she turned up in the resort only to be let down by her prospective boss.
She says she turned to prostitution “to survive”.
She said: “This is all down to the recession. It’s to make ends meet and I have to do this.
“I try not to think about what I have to do.”
After moving to Blackpool with her partner – who is also still looking for work – she has stayed as they both look to get stable employment.
She added: “The length of time I stay out depends on how much money I need.
“If I have a bill to pay I will stay out longer to pay that.
“Now the season’s over, and all the hotels are shut, there isn’t even bar work.
“I would love to get a normal job soon.”
Police had increased their patrols in the Palatine Road/Central Drive area three years ago amid fears a red light district had been created on the street.
Business owners claimed their premises were being plagued by people acting suspiciously and were calling for officers to put a stop to the suspicious goings-on.
Today the street is still renowned for prostitution.
Another of the prostitutes who operates there – a 40-year-old mother-of-one – says she is on the streets because she is a heroin addict.
Now 15 years ‘on the game’, her life is a routine one where she meets men she says she can trust. She said: “I’m a drinker and an addict. I’m not a victim.
“I’ve tried to get help but if I come off the drink I need drugs and if I stop taking drugs I need drink.
“I make £40 a customer. I do this because I’m not going into a parlour and giving them half my money.”
Far from being shunned by the local community, she says some hoteliers in the area support her. She added: “A spade is a spade and if people don’t want to speak to me they don’t have to.
“Nobody is on the streets to feed their kids or their mother – they are here because they want to feed their habit.
“A few of the hoteliers are friends and if they see me they will come out and give me a can when I need one.
“People are going in their hotels because we are here.
“It doesn’t matter what the police do, it’s not going to stop.”
Not everyone will be pleased to hear that.
Tat Tang, who owns Red Pepper restaurant on Central Drive, said: “Nobody is safe from these women, they will proposition anybody.
“A lot of our customers come in saying they have popped over the road to get cash from the cash machine and been offered sex.
“It makes people very nervous and is not good for local businesses. It’s hard for the police because even if they tell them to move, they are back the next night.”
Mr Tang says the workers are there every night and hang around close to the Yorkshire Bank cash machine.
Another hotelier who did not want to be named, said: “My guests are approached all the time. These women ask anybody, even people on holiday with their families.
“We met with the police earlier this year, but there isn’t much they can do. It has affected businesses here. People don’t want their children to see these women when they’re on holiday.”
Blackpool’s sex trade: