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Sex workers should be treated as potential victims rather than criminals, police chiefs say

Police can close brothels if they can show that women are being 'controlled' by others

Paul Peachey
Crime Correspondent
Monday 08 February 2016 22:21 GMT
Selling sex for cash is not a criminal offence
Selling sex for cash is not a criminal offence (Getty)

Sex workers should be treated as potential victims rather than criminals and the raiding of brothels should stop, according to proposals drawn up by senior officers.

Brothel raids are counterproductive and mean women are less willing to come forward to report violent attacks by their customers, say campaigners.

Activists have claimed that prostitutes preferred to work in the safety of buildings where a communal maid or CCTV added a layer of security, but police raids led to women seeking work on the streets instead.

Selling sex for cash is not a criminal offence but police can close brothels if they can show that women are being “controlled” by others – for example by requiring them to work in a certain place or dictating the number of customers they have to see.

Alex Feis-Bryce, the chief executive of National Ugly Mugs, a group which helps to protect sex workers from violence, said that the current law was “nonsense” and forced women to work less safely. Since 1990, there have been 152 sex workers murdered in the UK, and the murders of five prostitutes in Ipswich in 2006 led to changes in how sex work was policed.

Mr Feis-Bryce, who was part of the group that helped draft the “Policing Sex Work” guidelines, said: “The focus is very much on supporting sex-workers and identifying risks”.

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