London sex workers win legal challenge against police decision to shut down their flats
Two sex workers have claimed victory against Scotland Yard after they overturned a decision to shut down their flats after early morning police raids in Soho.
The flats had been shut for a minimum of three months after police argued that the women working there were being controlled, or incited to commit prostitution. It was one of 18 addresses targeted by officers in a crackdown on a notorious crime hotspot in London’s red light district.
However, the women said they were working of their own free will and it was safer to work where there was CCTV cameras in the building and where maids helped to vet customers. The women warned they would be at greater risk from harm if they had to work elsewhere or pick up trade on the streets.
The case is one of three brought by six sex workers over the controversial raids in December last year after a police undercover operation that was said to have revealed links to crimes including trafficking and rape.
Separately, two women lost their cases earlier this week after a judge said that they were being "controlled" and cited the “bizarre” nature that they paid rents by leaving cash in a microwave for collection by unknown people.
But in the latest ruling on Thursday, a judge said the two women used the flats “by arrangement with other sex workers at mutually convenient and agreed times. That does not constitute control.”
Niki Adams, of the English Collective of Prostitutes, said: “These closures should never have come to court. The police misled the public and claimed that they were needed to prevent rape and trafficking. No victims of trafficking were found; instead the police threw women out of the relative safety of their flats.”
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