The English Collective of Prostitutes collect and publish reports of raids and arrests that we receive through our network, they show how the police continue to criminalise women selling sex in a variety of ways. It is completely unjust that women, who often enter into sex work due to poverty, receive criminal records that prevent them from finding employment later if they try to leave sex work. The laws surrounding prostitution prevent women from working in ways where they feel most safe and incentivise police to pursue profit over the safety of working women.
Summary of reports received during September 2017 to January 2018:
3 targeted patrols to arrest kerb-crawlers. Arresting the clients of sex workers compromises the safety of sex workers themselves.
2 closure orders issued for properties where police suspect offences are being committed or “will be” committed at a property. These are civil orders that allow the police to immediately close premises pending a ruling by a magistrate – most of which rubber stamp the police action.
41 “prostitute cautions” were issued to women working on the street. These are a special type of caution issued to women suspected of soliciting, there is no need for the police to provide evidence of a criminal offence and there is no right of appeal. These cautions remain on your criminal record for 100 years and are flagged up by background checks, making it less likely that you will get future jobs particularly those involving caring for children or vulnerable adults.
9 months imprisonment for a woman charged with managing a brothel. The prosecutor noted that “none [of the women working] were underage and none had been coerced into working there.” The law around brothel-keeping makes it illegal to “keep a brothel, or to manage, or act or assist in the management of, a brothel”. Landlords, security guards, secretaries and cleaners at brothels can be convicted regardless of whether they have control over or coerced anyone into working there.
100 pound fines proposed by Redbridge Council for individuals suspected of kerb-crawling, removing the evidence requirements for a court judgment. This pushes street-based sex work into secluded areas where women working are less safe.
Finally, the Windmill Theatre lap-dancing club lost its license after campaigners hired private detectives to go undercover and found that the “no touching” rule between performers and clients had been broken. The Windmill, which since 1932 has hosted many famous actors and comedians, had only been closed before for 12 days during the blitz.
Liverpool – a woman was sentenced to nine months imprisonment after pleading guilty to two charges of managing a brothel. The prosecutor noted that “none [of the women working] were underage and none had been coerced into working there.”
Worthing and Hove – police conducted raids on four houses. Two men were arrested for offences related to prostitution, while a woman was arrested then released without charge.
Ilford – police continue their crackdown against prostitution, including issuing community protection notices and arresting sex workers.
Gloucester – a judge found charges brought against a man for running a brothel to be inappropriate, as only one woman worked from the address. It is yet to be decided whether he will face an alternative charge.
Bolton – police have increased the number of patrols targeting sex workers and kerb crawling.
Crawley – a closure order has been issued to shut down a flat used for offences including prostitution.
Berkeley – courts issued a confiscation notice for £310,000, to be paid within 3 months, against a man previously convicted on two counts of keeping a brothel. A woman who was his partner has paid the £14,520 confiscation notice issued against her.
Bristol – a closure order was issued against a property while police investigate its use as a brothel.
London –strip club The Windmill Theatre was closed down after losing its licence.
Norwich – police continue patrols targeted at prostitution and kerb crawling.
Ilford – police continue to target sex workers and kerb crawlers, using dispersal zones, cautions, community protection notices, arrests and prosecutions. So far, police have issued 41 cautions and arrested more than 40 people in their crackdown.
Ilford – Redbridge Council plans to give the police the authority to issue on-the-spot fines of £100 to individuals suspected of kerb-crawling, removing the evidence requirements for a court judgment.
Additionally, there have been several reports in Liverpool, Hull, Nottingham and Ireland since October 2017 about the rise of women entering sex work, due to poverty. The Nottingham Post reported that the charity POW cited that the number of migrant sex workers in the area has increased from 5 to 95 in the last year, their representative called for sex work to be decriminalised. In Liverpool, single mother Claire resorted to sex work after being abused by a loan shark after he had lent her money for her children’s Christmas presents. Irish students are paying for college and University by using the Seeking Arrangement website to find older rich men.
In Hull PCSO Fairbanks says the lack of sympathy for prostitutes can be unfair.
She said: ‘There is a perception that these women are all on benefits but that is not always the case. For many, this is their only source of income.’