Action Alert: Police Commissioners & Councillors elections

April 28, 2016

Dear Friends,

Another day, another election and another chance to make your views known and build support for the decriminalisation of sex work.

On 5 May there are elections for: local councillors all over the UK; the Northern Ireland Assembly; the Welsh Assembly; the London Assembly; the Scottish Parliament; Police and Crime Commissioners and Mayors in Bristol, Liverpool, Salford and London.

We want to put the decriminalisation of sex work on the agenda for these elections and find out where candidates stand on the issue. We have found that the best way to do this is for people in their local area to write to them, make a strong case for decriminalisation and tell them that you expect their support.

All the people standing for election have some power to determine what happens in their area about prostitution. Police and Crime Commissioners (PCCs) for example set police priorities including deciding how money is spent.

Please tell all your candidates how austerity cuts are pushing more people into prostitution, yet instead of providing resources some parliamentarians are proposing the criminalisation of clients. Criminalisation undermines safety.

Please contact your local candidates and raise this critical situation with them. A model letter is below.

  • You can find out which elections are happening in your area and who the candidates are here.
  • Scotpep, the Scottish sex worker organisation has an information letter about the Scottish Parliament elections here
  • Background information here
  • Fact sheet here
  • Recent press coverage about our parliamentary symposium is here and a recent legal case here.  Two recent letters in the media are here and here.

Thank you and best wishes

Laura Watson


 

MODEL LETTER:

Dear . . . . ,

I live in the area where you are standing for election and am trying to decide who to vote for on 5 May.

An urgent priority for me is the decriminalisation of sex work and safety for sex workers. You will know that sex work is on the increase as a result of austerity and rising poverty. At the same time, arrests and raids of sex workers continue despite concern that criminalisation forces sex workers into danger and makes it harder to report violence. Recognition of this led to the National Police Chiefs’ Council (NPCC) to advise police forces to move away from enforcing laws that criminalise the sale of sex (here).  Other senior police officers have voiced concerns that “operations to tackle the trade are ‘counterproductive’ and likely to put the lives of women at risk.

[Say something here about your situation and any reasons why this is a priority for you.]

I have been dismayed to see that some local and national politicians have focussed on increasing criminalisation by criminalising the clients of sex workers.

I would like to know where you stand on this issue. I cannot vote for any candidate that is not ready to give serious consideration to the decriminalisation of sex work.

In New Zealand, the Prostitution Reform Act was introduced in 2003 which decriminalised sex work.  Since then there have been verifiable improvements in sex workers’ safety, health and welfare. A similar law could be introduced here.

This pledge and background information, issued by the Safety First Coalition (which includes the Royal College of Nursing and Women Against Rape), outlines the basic case for decriminalisation. This fact sheet debunks common myths on sex work.

Yours sincerely,


Please can you continue to ask people to sign our Pledge to “Decriminalise Sex Work for Safety’s Sake” particularly organisations including: trade union branches; women’s; anti-poverty; anti-racist; religious; prison reform groups; residents associations; health and legal professionals; celebrities . . .