Base 75 has been a fixture in the lives of sex workers in Glasgow for more than 20 years.

A drop-in support service which aimed primarily to reduce the harm involved in chaotic lives, it was initially jointly funded by Glasgow City Council and Strathclyde Police.

Over the years, women have knocked on its doors in desperation, after being raped or robbed, perhaps just looking for condoms or often simply a listening, non-judgemental ear.

Women have arrived bloodied by violent assaults, or terrified because of the 'flesh-eating bug' which caused a spate of unexplained deaths and illness among the city's drug users in 2001. On one occasion, women reported a man who had been asking for children for sex, reports which ultimately reported in the conviction of a dangerous paedophile.

This week Base 75s night service has been shut, amid a row over its future direction and the loss of seven out of its 10 night service staff. One resigned and six had their contracts terminated after refusing to work new shift patterns, which would have allowed an outreach service until 1.30am.

The service's current managers, Community Safety Glasgow initially wanted workers to stay out on the streets until 3am, in order, they say, to reach more women, when they need support the most.

But the time chosen is immaterial, according to staff. All of them have day jobs, and do the additional work out of commitment to helping street sex workers survive and ultimately find a route out of prostitution. By demanding they finish their part time work at 'the Base' even two hours later, CSG was making their positions untenable, they say.

Out of concern for their other jobs, staff are unwilling to go public with their fears - apart from a joint statement.

However this is about more than just terms and conditions. The service is being affected by changed attitudes to the sex trade in the city, and the changing nature of that trade itself.

Base 75 has already transformed beyond recognition, staff say, due to a reduction in police and council

tolerance of street sex work, and a pressure to work with women to exit the trade.

Where staff were previously able to befriend women - offering them the use of hair curlers for example, and keeping a stock of make-up, such encouragements are now frowned upon. Instead, the workers claim, while staff support the 'routes out' policy on sex workers, demands that every contact is logged and reported have made some women hostile and suspicious of the service. Approaching them on the street when they are working in the early hours will only exacerbate that, they fear.

Both staff and CSG agree there has been a significant drop in the numbers using the service and the dispute is in essence about how to reach more women, and how best to support them.

Meanwhile crime figures out today show a 22.1% drop in prostitution-related crime with only 13 kerbcrawlers prosecuted last year. Increasingly sex work is carried on indoors, advertised via the internet and mobile phones.

While in some ways safer, these women are nevertheless often vulnerable and desperate too - and very often not in contact with any services at all.