The Sentinel: Prostitute Rita Brown calls for legalised brothels in Stoke-on-Trent
WORKING girl Rita Brown wrote to Prime Minister David Cameron from her prison cell – to ask for prostitution to be decriminalised.
By Richard Ault
The 60-year-old, who went by the name ‘Crystal’, was sentenced to eight months in jail after she admitted running a brothel since 1996.
Now, after being released from HMP Foston Hall prison, she has revealed how she rubbed shoulders with killers during her time behind bars, and campaigned vigorously for prostitution to be regulated.
And Ms Brown, who plans to go back into the sex trade, told how she penned a letter to Downing Street, calling on the PM to listen to her pleas.
The masseur is also calling for Staffordshire Police and Stoke-on-Trent City Council managers to meet sex workers to discuss ways to better manage prostitution across Stoke-on-Trent.
She believes prostitutes should be required to pay a £50 annual registration fee in return for legal protection.
The 60-year-old, of Seabridge Lane, Newcastle, said: “There are about 600 prostitutes in Stoke-on-Trent, so that would be £30,000 to the council every year.
“The girls would have to register where they were working and it would be safer. “Girls who stole, or who broke the rules could have their licence taken away. It would protect the girls and the clients.”
Ms Brown broke down in tears as she was jailed in September, after she admitted keeping a brothel for prostitution between July 1 1996 and February 6 last year.
However she maintains she never acted as a brothel ‘madam’, and shared accommodation at the Caress massage parlour in Middleport with other girls for ‘safety’.
She says she made her own living as a prostitute.
“Not one part of me wanted to plead guilty, but I was told if I didn’t I would be found guilty, and then I would get a longer sentence,” she said.
“I cried every night for six weeks. I couldn’t eat or sleep.
“Other prisoners told me I couldn’t cry because it was pathetic.
“It was horrendous. I wanted to kill myself, but there is no way of killing yourself in prison.
“You are locked up from 8.15pm to 8.15am during the week, and from 5.15pm at weekends. There is no access to toilets.
“I suffered from verbal bullying. The younger ones said some really cruel things and would try to trip me up.
“The ones who had done some really nasty crimes, the killers, were some of the kindest people in there.”
Chief Inspector Adrian Roberts, commander of the Stoke-on-Trent North Local Policing Team, spelt out the police’s position on prostitution.
He said: “Prostitution is against the law, and whatever the political or moral viewpoints people want to have, as police officers it is our job to uphold the law.
“Prostitution is an unlawful activity and if we become aware it is going on, we will take action. We are not going to turn a blind eye to the concerns of the community.”
A spokeswoman for working girls charity, the English Collective of Prostitutes, said: “What a terrible injustice that Rita Brown was imprisoned for working together with other women for safety.
“Ms Brown’s case and her campaign to win a change in police and council policy must be the impetus for change, so no other woman’s life is destroyed by imprisonment and a criminal record.”
A spokesman for 10 Downing Street said a reply to Ms Brown’s letter was being prepared.