PROSTITUTES have started selling sex near to a girls boarding college and two parks in Burnley.

Residents have expressed concerns to police about kerb crawlers and prostitutes in the Bank Hall area near Thompson Park and Queen's Park and the Mohiuddin International Girls College, where 200 girls live, in Ormerod Road.

Coun Salim Mulla, the former chairman of the Lancashire Council of Mosques, said the situation was ‘very worrying’.

He said: “I have visited the college on many occasions and it is a fantastic place. For something like this to be happening is completely out of order.

“It is really worrying that something like is taking place near to the college and to where vulnerable young girls are staying. People are right to be concerned about it, and it is important that the police are taking it seriously and doing all they can to stop the problem.”

Bank Hall Councillor Gary Frayling said: “This has been an issue at a few recent PACT meetings and the police are really on to it and are doing a fantastic job.

“The complaints have been of prostitution around The Talbot, on Ormerod Road and up near the parks.

“I am a committee member on the Canalside Residents’ Association as well and it has been discussed there, it is something that residents do have concerns about.

“They want to see the prostitutes gone, they seem to have been moved on from the Duke Bar area but are now hanging around here and touting for business around here "It is a nice area here and with the parks there is a lot of children about so that is a real concern, it is not something they should be exposed to, you don’t want to see prostitutes near the park looking for business and then taking clients in to the park.”

Lorraine Anderson, who lives in Ormerod Road, said: “It has been become a noticeable problem over the last few months. This is a nice area so it is a surprise to see this going on, and it has got a lot of people concerned.

“It is not nice to go outside at night and see girls blatantly touting for business, especially considering most of the houses in this area are occupied by families.”

Janet Rigby, who takes her dog for walks in Thompson Park, said: “I don’t come out to walk the dog at night but I know people who do who said it can be quite intimidating now.

“These are nice parks and it is awful to think what is going on. I’ve not seen anything myself but I know people have said that prostitution is a problem, and it really needs stamping out.”

Police have warned kerb crawlers they face prison if caught.

Inspector Viki Crorken, from Burnley Police, said: “We take a robust approach when dealing with kerb crawlers and I would ask them to carefully consider the consequences of their actions.

“They should be warned they face arrest, a hefty fine or a prison sentence. We may even visit them at their homes.

She said officers are seeking to work with prostitutes rather than putting them through the courts, to try to change their lifestyle.

Inspector Crorken said: “We are aware of people’s concerns about street prostitution and kerb crawlers in the Bank Hall area or Burnley and we are working to tackle the issue.

“Many women have become sex workers because of drug and alcohol issues and we have found that arresting them and putting them through the courts only causes further problems as they have to continue as street sex workers in order to pay the fine.

“We are taking a victim centred approach to the issue by engaging with the women and encouraging them to work with agencies such as the police and drug and alcohol workers.

“With this help and support our aim is to offer them a route out of this lifestyle while improving the quality of life for members of the local community.”