Fairfield Street, Manchester
Fairfield Street, Manchester (Google Maps)

Police in Manchester have charged a 33-year-old man in connection with a series of sex attacks on prostitutes that occurred over a two-hour period on the night of Tuesday 5 March.

Thomas Hall, of Mount Pleasant Street, Audenshaw, Manchester, faces charges including five counts of rape, attempted rape, and actual bodily harm.

Four women reported the attacks between 8.40pm and 10.30pm on 5 March in the Fairfield Street area of Manchester city centre.

Hall has been remanded in custody to appear at Manchester City Magistrates' Court on Saturday 9 March.

Last year, there were calls from police and campaigners for the law to be changed and prostitution decriminalised after a number of sex workers in east London who reported violent robberies were threatened by the police with prosecution.

Prostitution is technically legal within British law, but it is surrounded by other rules that make it practically impossible to carry out lawfully, such as women working on the street being charged with loitering and soliciting, and that two or more women working in one property can be charged with brothel keeping.

In 2011 the Deputy Chief Constable of Manchester police Simon Byrne said that legalising brothels may help to keep sex workers safer.

However, critics argue that legalisation may lead to an increase in crime and human trafficking.

One Home Office study claims that of the approximately 80,000 people involved in prostitution in the UK, up to half have been raped or seriously sexually assaulted, and more than three quarters physically assaulted.

Anyone with further information is asked to contact police on 101 or Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.