Criminalising clients puts people working on-street in greater danger and forced ‘exiting’ does not work

Ruth Jacobs

Since reading of the murder of Mariana Popa, a 24-year-old Romanian woman working on-street in Ilford Lane in October 2013, I have thought about her often. Her death occurred just as police embarked on a hard line ‘cleaning up the streets’ approach to prostitution named Operation Clearlight.

I have recently investigated another such ‘cleaning up the streets’ campaign in Medway, Kent for BBC1. Their Safe Exit scheme was meant to help women exit the sex trade and was hailed a success. However, our investigation found that although Kent Police claimed to have reduced numbers of women working on-street in Medway by 90 or more, only one woman was actually helped and sadly she is no longer alive. Another woman was murdered, and other women who were working on-street are known to have died since the scheme started. In response to our Freedom of Information request, Kent Police was…

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In the Booth with Ruth – Andrew Boff, Conservative Member of the London Assembly

Conservative Member of the London Assembly, Andrew Boff, explains why the Merseyside model – making all crimes against people in prostitution/sex workers hate crimes – is needed in London.

Ruth Jacobs

andrew-boffFrom your research of the Metropolitan Police, can you tell me how they are dealing with crimes committed against people in prostitution/sex workers? 

Some police, and indeed some boroughs and units in the MPS, are doing a great job. However unfortunately, it takes just one bad officer to disproportionately damage relations between sex workers and police.

What concerns were raised in your report?

One of the concerns in my report, Silence on Violence, was that there was consistent evidence that police had been proactively raiding sex establishments without complaints or significant intelligence that exploitation was taking place.

Can you explain how this affects people in prostitution/sex workers when a crime is committed against them?

NHS projects had noted that ‘brothel’ raids and visits had led to the displacement of sex workers away from their support networks, which led to their lives and health being at increasing risk. There is another concern – that when police…

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