Bulletin 5: May-September 2017

Each year hundreds of sex workers are arrested, raided, prosecuted and even imprisoned under the prostitution laws.

The bulletin below documents some of the cases which have been compiled by women in the ECP network from the media and other sources. These figures are in no way comprehensive, the cautioning, arrest and prosecution of street based sex workers for example is likely to be under represented because such cases are less likely to appear in the press.

During this latest period, the ECP was contacted by a number of women who had suffered violent attacks whilst working together with others in premises. After reporting it to the police, they were threatened with prosecution for prostitution offences while little was done to pursue their attackers.

In one case the woman was subsequently threatened with deportation as well and this was only stopped by a vigorous campaign spearheaded by the ECP. Please see Open Letter here about this case which demands that police prioritise the protection of sex workers over prosecutions for prostitution offences.


In the period May to September, the press published reports of:

Seven areas where there were organised police crackdowns either carried out or planned: Birmingham, Doncaster, Dundee, Hull, Ilford, Norwich, Southend.

Over a hundred cautions and civil orders being issued. Civil orders include Anti-Social Behaviour Orders, Acceptable Behaviour Contracts, Criminal Behaviour Orders, Community Protection Notices, Public Spaces Protection Orders, Premise Closure Orders and Dispersal Orders. Civil orders rely entirely on police discretion and do not require a person to be found guilty. Despite this, civil orders can carry a hefty fine, and breach of a civil order is a criminal offence that can result in a jail sentence.

Six areas where closure notices were issued or extended against one or more properties: Bradford, Cheltenham, Hanley, Hove and Worthing, Newport, Poole. Like other civil orders, closure notices do not require evidence but rely solely on police discretion.

12 people arrested for prostitution or related offences, including “controlling prostitution”. Anyone related to the business of sex work, including landlords, security guards, maids, receptionists, employees and friends may be convicted of “controlling prostitution for gain”, despite not forcing or coercing anyone to work.

Nine people facing deportation after police raids and arrests. These include a sex worker who only came to the attention of the police after she contacted them to report being violently robbed at knifepoint.

May

Norwich – police have created a poll to ask the public their opinion as to whether they should target prostitution, begging or drugs. Here
Hull – a police clampdown on prostitution has resulted in 18 orders being issued for prostitution and three orders for kerb crawling in a nine week period. Here
Dundee – police continue their crackdown on prostitution. Here
Edinburgh – a man was sentenced to 29 months in jail for offences related to the management of sex workers. Here

June

Cheltenham – police shut down a ‘pop-up’ brothel. Here
Dorking – a man and a woman have been sentenced to eight months imprisonment for the charge of keeping a brothel. They will likely be deported upon their release. Here
Hounslow – a man has been arrested for controlling prostitution. Here
Hanley – a lap dancing club has been shut down after police asked for the club’s licence to be revoked. Here
Cambridge – two men and a woman have been arrested after police raided a suspected brothel. Here

July

Newport – a closure notice previously served on a house has been extended, after police allege the house is linked to drugs and prostitution. Here
Poole – a closure notice previously served on a house has been extended, after police allege the house is linked to drugs, prostitution and anti-social behaviour. Here
Swindon – three Romanian women were arrested and detained for deportation after being arrested in brothels. Here
Ilford – police have issued 25 cautions, carried out 31 stop and searches and issued 50 dispersal notices over a two-week period as part of a crackdown on prostitution. Here
Epsom – a man was arrested on suspicion of prostitution-related offences. Here
Manchester – a man and a woman pleaded guilty to controlling prostitution for gain. Police said in court that there was no evidence of trafficking or coercion. Here
Norwich – police continue an operation to target sex workers and their clients. Here
Doncaster – police issued three community protection notices and three dispersal notices to sex workers, and cautioned one man for soliciting. Here
Bradford – police have closed down a suspected brothel, and three women have been detained for deportation. Here
Ilford – police and local politicians held a meeting with residents to discuss strategies to crack down on prostitution. Here

August

Southend – police and local politicians held a meeting with residents to discuss strategies to crack down on prostitution. Here
London – police threatened a sex worker with prosecution and deportation after she reported being violently robbed. Here
Birmingham – a police operation has seen more than a dozen kerb crawlers referred to education courses or issued fines of over £1000. Here

September

London – a woman, herself a former sex worker, was sentenced to three years in jail for charges related to running a brothel. Her husband was given a 12 month suspended sentence plus 150 hours community service. Here
Hove and Worthing – police raided four premises, resulting in the arrest of two men and two women. Here

This shows that the police continue to take action against sex workers on the streets and working together with others in premises despite the recommendations of a Home Affairs Committee that sex workers should be decriminalised.