– Nearly 1k victims in two years
– Digital ‘Ugly Mugs’ database of dangerous clients secures £85k police funding
There have been 922 reported crimes against sex workers in the UK in the past two years – a quarter of those (25%) were reported rapes, 39% were sexual assaults and 44% were violent attacks.
London has the highest number of reported incidents totaling two a week at 210. The North West region received 176 reports and the West Midlands 164.
The successful ‘Ugly Mugs’ scheme, which has been running for two years, has now secured £85k funding from UK police forces – £20k of which has come from the Mayor’s Office for Policing and Crime (MOPAC) and the Met, thanks to persistent campaigning by GLA Conservative Andrew Boff. The scheme costs £120k a year to run.
“This city is becoming safer for Londoners yet my research suggests that sex workers see it as increasingly dangerous. Bad experiences with the police mean most sex workers do not report crimes and this has encouraged criminals to intentionally target them. Amazingly in just two years, the Ugly Mugs scheme has tackled this problem head on – it has saved lives and several dangerous criminals have already been convicted and imprisoned. It’s good news for the project that it has secured £85k in police funding. This funding is a good call; we are all safer as a result.”
Started as a pilot scheme in July 2014 and initially funded by the Home Office, the ‘Ugly Mugs’ project collects information on violent and potentially dangerous clients, and circulates it to sex workers on an online database. Sex workers can anonymously report rapists and robbers by phone or online, helping police to build intelligence and identify serial offenders.
London based escort Elizabeth said:
“I saw first-hand the way police behave on a raid. They took all the money they could find [during the raid]… and treated us like we were filth making comments like (after finding alcohol) 'does it help you get through the night?' And these are the people we are supposed to report crimes to?”
Alex Bryce, Manager of the National Ugly Mugs scheme said:
“Sex workers have the right to police protection and this sends the message that, as far as the Met police is concerned, there is no grade of victim and crimes against sex workers will be taken seriously. I would like to thank our champions in London, particularly Andrew Boff, a determined and committed advocate for evidence based policing and the rights and safety of sex workers.”
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