Statement: Police crackdown on prostitution in Coventry will put sex workers’ lives at risk

Cari Mitchell, a spokeswoman for the ECP, commented on the police initiative which claims to target kerb-crawlers:

“Security systems among women on the street will be further disrupted and women displaced into unfamiliar areas. Women will be forced to work harder and take more risks to make the same money. 70% of sex workers are mothers, mostly single mothers. With government cuts causing more poverty, debt and homelessness more women are working in the sex industry to survive. One in four Coventry children are  living in poverty and just under half of Coventry food bank recipients are forced to steal food to get enough to eat.  Faced with this human crisis, is the best that West Midlands police and Coventry Council can come up with is to crack down on prostitution – one of the few ways women are finding to survive?

Every time the police claim to be pursuing kerb-crawlers it is women who are arrested first and most (75 women cautioned for prostitution, 21 kerb-crawlers charged or cautioned since last June). So-called diversion and rehabilitation schemes for sex workers offer little practical help — more women are being sent to prison for breaching community orders than ever before. Criminal records and imprisonment trap women and young people in prostitution and devastate lives.

It is imperative that prostitution is decriminalised so that sex workers can work together and are able to report rape and violence to the police without fear of prosecution. If police crackdowns continue, how long before we see more tragic deaths like in Ipswich.”

English Collective of Prostitutes Tel: 020 7482 2496