Independent: Police criticised for warning Swansea sex workers they could be prosecuted in clampdown

‘It is terrifying that this is the police response to women’s situation. Women are out there because poverty has increased – particularly in that area. People are really struggling,’ says campaigner

Maya Oppenheim Women’s Correspondent @mayaoppenheim

South Wales Police said sex workers who 'refuse to engage' with support services in the Welsh coastal city of Swansea could face action

Police have been criticised for warning sex workers in Swansea that they could be prosecuted in a clampdown. Campaigners argued this would put the women in greater danger.

Sex workers who “refuse to engage” with support services could face action, South Wales Police said about Operation Jaeger which is targetting men and women engaging in sex work and those who exploit people selling sex.

But Swansea Women’s Aid, an organisation which works with “high-risk female street sex workers”, said it was “very concerned” about the force’s stance and it could stop the women from engaging with the support its project offers.

It added that it was both angered and saddened that a woman could face prosecution due to a lack of engagement with the SWAN project, a charity it helps to run alongside Swansea Neighbourhood Policing Team and others, which seeks to redirect women away from sex work and provide them with support. Around 60 women currently receive support from the project.

It highlighted a” complete lack of understanding of the complexities involved,” it said.

It is not illegal for individuals to buy or sell sex from each other in the UK but soliciting and sex workers working together as a group are illegal.

After police announced the “stringent enforcement”, Swansea Women’s Aid said the move “flies in the face” of protection for people under the Violence Against Women, Domestic Abuse and Sexual Violence (Wales) Act 2015.