Bulletin 2: April – September 2016

This bulletin listing the raids, arrests, closures and prosecutions of sex workers and people sex workers associate with, shows that hundreds of women are being criminalised each year, with little protest or investigation into the impact of such criminalisation.

In practice police crackdowns mean sex workers are forced into isolated areas, and are unable to implement safety measures such as screening clients. A freedom of information request revealed that police in Redbridge – the borough in which sex worker Mariana Popa was murdered whilst working on the street – issued more cautions for sex work than any other borough in London.

Sex workers are prevented from working together by a law which classes two or more women working together as a brothel. Landlords, security guards, friends, maids, employees and other people who work with sex workers are criminalised by a number of charges, including “controlling prostitution for gain” and “inciting prostitution”. The criminalisation of prostitution also makes sex workers particularly vulnerable to exploitation by corrupt police and officials.

Below are just some of the cases which have been published by the media and brought to the attention of the ECP. The cautioning, arrest and prosecution of street based sex workers is likely to be under represented because such cases are less likely to appear in the press.

Shockingly the bulletin also documents instances of police abuse of their powers including having sex, illegally filming sex workers and using police computers to obtain sex workers’ details.  It is rare for cases of police abuse to come to court as sex workers are unlikely to report for fear of threats and reprisals from police who have privileged access to information, massive powers and little accountability. It must surely raise questions about the implementation of the prostitution laws and strengthen calls for their repeal.

April

  • Tamworth, a man has been charged with managing /assisting in the management of a brothel. Here
  • York, a woman was sentenced to eight months’ imprisonment after pleading guilty to running a brothel. Here
  • Harrow, a brothel was shut down and the women evicted. Here
  • Wealdstone, police shut down a brothel. Here
  • Reading, police raided and then shut down a suspected brothel. Here
  • Reading, police raided and issued a closure order on a suspected brothel. Here
  • Dublin, a woman was sentenced to 18 months imprisonment after pleading guilty to one count of organising prostitution. The judge noted the case did not involve exploitation or trafficking. Here
  • Maidstone, a man was convicted of two counts of controlling prostitution for gain and seven counts of keeping a brothel used for prostitution. He was sentenced to three-and-a-half years in prison. Here

May

  • Wolverhampton, six men arrested for kerb-crawling and sent on a rehabilitation course. Here
  • Edmonton, police are clamping down on sex work, including focussing patrols and targeting brothels. Here
  • Essex, raid on a suspected brothel but no arrests made. Police spoke to a woman, the sole occupant, and reported “when [they] attended, no-one at the property was committing an offence.” Here
  • Warwick, six women and two men were charged with assisting in the management of brothels located variously in Kenilworth, Nuneaton, Leamington, Nottingham, Torquay and London. Here
  • Bradford, a woman was sentenced to 14 months imprisonment (suspended) and 150 hours community service after admitting five charges of controlling prostitution and five charges of transferring criminal property (the proceeds of prostitution). Here
  • London, police shut down a brothel. Here
  • Cambridge, two men were charged with running a brothel. Here
  • Borehamwood, three women and a man were arrested on suspicion of managing a brothel after a police raid. Here
  • Belfast, a man was arrested, then released on bail, on suspicion of brothel keeping. Here
  • Belfast, a man was charged with two counts of controlling prostitution for financial gain, and three counts of brothel keeping. Here

June

  • Derby, a woman has been charged with soliciting, and five men will be required to appear in court for kerb-crawling. Here
  • Trowbridge, a 74-year old man was arrested for controlling and managing a brothel. Here
  • Maidstone, a 64-year old woman was sentenced to 150 hours of unpaid work after being convicted of assisting in the management of a brothel. A Proceeds of Crime hearing is scheduled for later this year, where she risks having assets confiscated if she cannot account for their source. Here
  • London, a Civil Recovery Order has been issued against a woman for funds believed to come from brothel payments. Here
  • Hounslow, police are targeting clients of sex workers, and have investigated 57 suspected brothels. Here
  • London, a man was banned from all telephone boxes within M25 after he pled guilty to placing ad cards in phone boxes. Here

July

  • Northampton, a woman was given a 16 month suspended sentence after she pled guilty to managing a brothel and supplying class B drugs. Here
  • High Wycombe, notifications issued that new Public Space Protection Orders mean sex workers and their clients can be given £1000 fine. Here

August

  • London, police raided and shut down a suspected brothel. Here
  • Lewes, two women were sentenced to 200 hours unpaid work for keeping and managing a brothel. The judge stated that they avoided a prison sentence as they did not coerce other women into prostitution or make money off other women. Here
  • Coventry, a man and a women were arrested after police raided a suspected brothel. Here
  • Dartford, a brothel was raided by police. Here
  • Folkestone, a woman was charged with brothel keeping. Here
  • London, a man was sentenced to 12 weeks imprisonment (suspended) and 30 days’ rehabilitation for managing a brothel. Here

September

  • Liverpool, five people were charged with controlling prostitution for gain. Four have pled guilty. Here
  • Southend, police are using community protection notices to crack down on prostitution. Here
  • Yeovil, a man and a woman were charged with running a brothel for prostitution. Here
  • Norwich, police report they will be increasing patrols against sex workers. Here
  • Maidstone, a man was sentenced to eight months imprisonment for running a brothel. Here
  • Belfast, a man was fined and given a six-month suspended sentence after pleading guilty to seven charges related to prostitution. Here
  • Derby, two women pled guilty to keeping a brothel. Here
  • Birmingham, six people pled guilty to acting or assisting in the management of a brothel. Here
  • Birmingham, police shut down a suspected brothel. Here
  • Harrow, police shut down a suspected brothel. The three women declined support and police report “no concerns about their welfare”. Here

Cases involving police officers

  • Greater Manchester Police, an officer used police computer systems to obtain contact details for sex workers, whom he visited whilst on duty. He was given a suspended sentence of 15 months’ imprisonment. Here
  • Sussex Police, an officer used police computer systems to obtain details about a woman who worked as sex worker, and sent video footage of himself engaged in a sex act while on duty at the police station. He was originally sentenced to 15 months’ imprisonment, which was then reduced to four months already served after the Judge said prison was harder for police. Here and here
  • Northumbria Police, an officer used police computer systems to track down a sex worker whom he began regular contact with. He was sentenced to 255 hours unpaid work. Here
  • London Metropolitan Police, an officer pled guilty to voyeurism after filming hundreds of encounters with sex workers. He was given a community sentence, and must sign the sex offenders register for five years. Here