“Campaigners for sex workers’ rights say that by focusing on the prosecution and deportation of the worker rather than the attack against her, police were discouraging other women from coming to them for help”
Sex workers have warned that they are unable to go to the police for help, after a victim of crime was threatened with deportation.
The Brazilian woman, who was in the UK on a visitors visa, was robbed at knifepoint by five men at a premises in Enfield in the early hours of June 24th.
When the victim called the police, she said their focus seemed to be more on her activities as a sex worker than the attack itself.
After returning from a recent trip to Spain, she was detained at Gatwick airport for several hours and later given a letter by the Home Office demanding that she leave the UK this Sunday.
Campaigners for sex workers’ rights say that by focusing on the prosecution and deportation of the worker rather than the attack against her, police were discouraging other women from coming to them for help.
“This is an outrageous injustice,” Niki Adams of the English Collective of Prostitutes, said.
“How can police claims to have concern for sex workers’ safety have any credibility when they abuse sex workers in this way?
“This case shows the reality of how migrant sex workers are being targeted for prosecution and deportation.”
In a message passed to Politics.co.uk by Adams, the victim of the attack said that she knew from other women that several other properties had been robbed in a similar way but that sex workers’ are often too scared to report it to the police.
“If I’m removed there will be no-one ready to give evidence to stop these attackers,” she added.
The woman, who is in a relationship with a UK citizen, was due to leave the country at the end of August, but is concerned that being forcibly removed by the Home Office could mean that any future visa applications she makes will be refused.
In April, Politics.co.uk revealed that the Metropolitan police had been referring both victims and witnesses of crime to the Home Office for immigration reasons.
A spokesperson for the Metropolitan police said:
“Police are investigating reports of a robbery at premises in Enfield on 24 June at around 00:30hrs. There were no reported injuries. There have been no arrests at this stage, but enquiries continue. Officers subsequently made contact with the victim/s to inform them on the progress of the investigation.
“As a law enforcement agency, the safety of people engaged in sex work is paramount to the police and tackling violence against women and girls is also a priority for the Met Police.
“We are continuing to develop a consistent approach across London to dealing with the impact of sex work on the vulnerable, and working in partnership with support agencies to offer individuals pathways into support services and out of prostitution. This of course does not rule out use of legislation where other options have been exhausted, or it is the appropriate action to take in the circumstances.
“We can confirm that a letter was given to the occupant/s [of the Enfield premises above] that detailed the Section 33A Sexual Offences Act 1956 – this states that ‘It is an offence for a person to keep, or to manage, or to act or assist in the management of, a brothel to which people resort for practices involving prostitution (whether or not also for other practices).”
Update 15:05: The woman has just been contacted by the Home Office to inform her that the removal has been put back by three weeks to allow the police time to investigate the attack.