KERB crawlers have spoken of their shame at being confronted over the effects of their actions.

As part of a police crackdown on the vice trade, 35 men have attended new sexual exploitation courses aimed at stamping out the problem.

And some revealed their dread at having to attend the sessions, which revealed how many women are forced into prostitution because of drug or money problems.

The sessions, run jointly with Bolton Council, also reveal the effects on people who live in areas where the vice trade has spread, such as The Haulgh, with problems of noise and anti-social behaviour at night and some women being harrassed in the street.

One man said: "It's quite embarrassing. It preys on your mind. Even if you're not married, it can bring shame on your family as a whole."

Another added: "For the last month, I've thought about this session every single day. You have to take it on the chin and learn from it."

Last month, The Bolton News published excerpts from letters written by those affected by prostitution, which were shown to the men.

When asked why he had chosen to use a prostitute, a third man said: "I was going through difficult times and it was an opportunity, a foolish one, I have regretted since the night it happened."

The men were speaking to BBC radio station Five Live.

Those who attend the sessions are allowed to remain anonymous if they accept a police caution.

Just two of 37 kerb crawlers arrested since November have refused to attend and have been charged after denying the offence. If convicted, they will be named-and-shamed.

Police say the attitude of participants shows the tactics are working. There have been no recorded reoffenders since the scheme began.

Inspector Phil Spurgeon, who led the operation, said: "It has been a successful campaign for us but is just the start and we are not stopping until we get rid of street prostitution in Bolton.

"The work carries on and it's business as usual."

The police say that although it is difficult to measure the level of prostitution in Bolton, it is decreasing.

Insp Spurgeon added: "The problems we had with overspill at Lever Street are pretty much eradicated.

"We have had nothing in the Haulgh for ages and we have really driven down activity in the traditional red light area around Shiffnall Street."