Labelling attacks against prostitutes as hate crimes could end the agony of those who suffer in silence, police have been told.
Complaints by sex workers about violence are rare because they are either not taken seriously or treated as an occupational hazard.
Labelling attacks as hate crimes would oblige police to investigate the crime rather than the sex worker themselves, claims Andrew Boff, leader of the Conservative group on the London Assembly. He is now urging the
Met Police to adopt the approach following the success of a similar scheme in Merseyside, which helped boost conviction rates by more than 80 per cent.
‘Sex workers are in the most dangerous profession a person can be in,’ said Mr Boff. ‘Unless we recognise that these types of crime are going on, we will never get to the bottom of solving them.’ Sex workers are 12 times more likely to be murdered than the average Briton and the move comes as Greater Manchester Police begin recording attacks against goths and emos as hate crimes.
But Cari Mitchell, of the English Collective of Prostitutes, said re- labelling attacks as hate crimes may not make any difference to sex workers. ‘Has it done so with racist attacks?’ she said.
**ECP comment on the article above.
It is important that Andrew Boff has raised that he is concerned, as we are, about the high levels of violence against sex workers.
But we have no reason to believe that if attacks on sex workers are categorised as hate crimes it will make any difference. Has it done so with racist attacks? Will it deal with the prejudices of the police and the crown prosecution service who prioritise prosecutions over our protection? Will it change that, because we are criminalised, attacks on us are rarely taken seriously by the police?
If sex work were decriminalised, as it is in New Zealand, then we could come forward and report any attacks to the police and demand to be taken seriously.