PROSTITUTES are to be targeted in a major police operation after residents said their lives were being made a misery.

Officers and town hall chiefs have joined forces after receiving numerous complaints from people in the Bank Top area of Blackburn.

Women living in Harrison Street, Canterbury Street, Garden Street and George Street West said they won’t leave their homes in the evening for fear of being propositioned by kerb crawlers.

Pensioner Madeline Fish said she had even been offered cash for sex while sitting in a car outside her home.

During the six-week crackdown prostitutes and kerb crawlers will be targeted by police and offered education about how to keep themselves safe through the council’s outreach service.

Council chiefs said complaints raised at resident PACT meetings had spurred on the action.

Mrs Fish, 69, of Harrison Street, said: “I got a lift home from a friend after bingo one night about a month ago and me, a 69-year-old woman and my friend who is 70 were chatting in the car outside my house.

“The next thing we knew, a car with two young men in their 20s pulled up alongside us and asked if we were touting for business.

“We half thought they were joking and told them where to go. The next thing we knew they had driven around the block and asked us if we were sure we didn’t want to make some easy cash.

“The issue is unbelievable, we honestly feel like a forgotten community around here.

“I have lived in this house for 26 years and when we first moved it was a lovely area.

“It’s heartbreaking this area has been turned into the red light district of Blackburn. We own our house and if we wanted to move this label would have a very negative effect on our house price.”

Mrs Fish said that she had often tried to speak to prostitutes gathering outside her home.

She said: “Currently, I would say there are about half a dozen girls gathering in the street.

“Prostitution has been a real problem in this area for about 10 years. There are less girls out on the streets now but they seem to be out more often and for longer.”

A father-of-four, who also lives in Harrison Street, said: “Most days you can see men approaching women for sex. From late afternoon the women can be seen all along here.

“They are obviously doing this for drug money.

“We moved to Blackburn from Chorley so didn’t know the area well. But once we moved in it was clear to see just how bad it is.

“Men will drive down here and stop and speak to any female in the street regardless of their age.

“My wife can’t go to the shop on her own. She has been stopped several times by men looking for sex and it really frightens her.

“My children are growing up and they have started to notice just how obvious it is becoming.”

Another resident in nearby Canterbury Street said: “I have even been propositioned walking to the shop with my eight-year-old daughter.

“It makes you feel really cheap. I have stopped going out in an evening because of prostitution. It starts early afternoon and runs through to the early hours of the morning.

“I am just doing everything I can to move away from here.”

Sgt Kevin Jones, of Bank Top neighbourhood Policing Team said: “We are launching a six week purge on street sex workers and street drinking in the Bank Top and town centre areas of Blackburn.

“This is a joint operation with Blackburn with Darwen Council.

The council will also be using mobile CCTV cameras to monitor the situation long term.