Chief constables have warned against the creation of red light "toleration zones" and have said they intend instead to set up safe houses and other exit schemes for prostitutes while closing brothels masquerading as massage parlours and saunas.

The new vice strategy published by the Association of Chief Police Officers comes as the home secretary, David Blunkett, considers a reform of the laws on prostitution which could lead to small licensed brothels, local tolerance zones and a state register of sex workers.

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