Hundreds of men and women in a deprived area of Britain are selling their bodies for sex to earn as little as £5, a shock report revealed today.
It found 640 men and women on Teesside turning to prostitution to earn enough for every day essentials.
Around half said they were forced to resort to “survival sex” in which sex is exchanged in return for accommodation, food, drink and drugs.
They charged as little as £5 to £60 for oral sex, while full sex ranged from £5 to £150 in towns such as Middlesbrough, Stockton and Hartlepool in Cleveland.
A day after the Chancellor delivered his budget, Northern Rock Foundation and the Durham Tees Valley Probation Service produced a disturbing insight into the trade between 2012 and 2013.
Researchers found sex workers ended up in accommodation ‘you would not put a dog in’.
Some landlords took money from them at B&Bs, and expected sex as payment for providing drink and cigarettes.
One woman of 30 who grew up in care was “treated her like a prisoner, a sex slave” after her passport was taken from her, the report said.
Another suffered serious assault from a “punter” who beat her and buried her alive.
She woke in a shallow grave and managed to escape.
The man who carried out the attack received a suspended sentence.
According the report “Sex Trade Markets in Teesside”, carried out by research group Barefoot, houses of multiple occupancy encouraged prostitution in young girls.
Barefoot director Dr Christopher Hartworth said: “Prostitution is a problem in Teesside, especially for those with ongoing difficulties with heroin and crack.
“Each area is different – in Newcastle, there are more escorts and brothels, and in Middlesbrough there is a street sex market that does not really exist anywhere else.
“Doing this research and bringing all these statistics together can give agencies such as police and councils a head start in tackling the problem.”
Jessie Joe Jacobs, of “A Way Out” charity in Stockton-on-Tees, added: “While budgets for local authorities and the police are squeezed, it is vital that we do not turn a blind eye to those in society that really need it.
“Who deals with those caught up in prostitution? From a criminal justice point of view, it is the police, otherwise it might be a social care system which is very stretched.
“Unfortunately, it seems that if you are not mad enough, bad enough or sad enough you don’t get the help you need.”
Unemployment across the North-east region also increased by 1,000 in the three months to November, official figures revealed.
The Office for National Statistics (ONS) showed that a total of 134,000 people were unemployed in the North east between September and November of last year.
The region’s unemployment rate was 10.3% and saw a rise of 0.8% during the period. Middlesbrough has the highest rate of unemployment in the North east followed by Hartlepool in second place.