London, June 12 (ANI): Girls as young as 12 are selling themselves for sex in downtown Auckland, indicating a surge in underage prostitution in the area.enior Constable Mark Riddell of the Auckland central police Youth Action Team said in the last six weeks, a police operation code-named City Door had identified at least 13 girls aged under 16 who were "active prostitutes".
Many of them work from City Road, which runs between Queen Street and Symonds Street.
Senior Constable Riddell calls the street a "young red light area".
In the last two weeks, Senior Constable Riddell and his team have taken five underage girls off the streets and put them in to the custody of Child, Youth and Family.
However, Riddell said many of these girls escape CYF and go straight back on the street.
"Kids will run away on the same night we pick them up. On some occasions, they've got back to the city before we've got back out on the road," the New Zealand Herald quoted him as saying.
One of the girls, who started working as a prostitute when she was 12 and had never been to high school, said she had been picked up by a car full of men and raped only days earlier.
Senior Constable Riddell said CYF has only about 100 beds in secure custody across New Zealand.
These are prioritised for those at risk of suicide, so the girls he dealt with often missed out.
Debbie Baker, the manager of Streetreach, a group supporting street sex workers, said she knew of at least 12 girls between 11 and 15 "out there selling themselves for sex" in the central city.
She believed that the police were under-resourced and CYF was unable to deal with the problem.
Riddell said that many of the girls' parents knew what they are doing.
Auckland Mayor John Banks said he was concerned by what he calls an epidemic of prostitution, family violence and drug and alcohol abuse in greater Auckland. (ANI)