Merseyside Police Get Huge Grant To Help Street Sex Workers
August 18, 2017
Life for street sex workers isn’t much like fun. Not only are they often looked at as the poor relation of the industry compared to online professionals, more importantly they are often the target of theft and violent assaults. However in Merseyside, it looks like the police are doing something about it.
Authorities in the region are launching a new project aimed at protecting sex workers from exploitation, trafficking and sexual and domestic violence.
The region’s Police and Crime Commissioner Jane Kennedy have successfully secured close to £500,000 of Government funding for what is being called The Umbrella Project.
The idea is that they can increase and improve the support they offer street sex workers in the area.
The three-year project will help sex workers who have already been the victims of violence as well as those who are at risk.
Merseyside Police will use the extra cash to improve intelligence on those who inflict violence on the women, whilst also encouraging victims to come to the police when they have been the victim of crimes.
The money will pay for a venue where women will be able to get help and services, give statements, and even give evidence in court via video-link, something that is very stressful for vulnerable women.
Merseyside’s Police Commissioner Jane Kennedy said: “Merseyside has the largest street beat of sex workers outside of London. Many of these women are extremely vulnerable and are forced into this work because of difficult life circumstances.
“This bid is designed to better support these women to ensure they get the help they need, ideally so they can get off the streets but, for those who remain, to ensure they are better protected and are able work free from violence, abuse and exploitation.
“Merseyside Police has led the way for many years in prosecuting and securing convictions against those who commit crimes against sex workers, in large part by being the first force in the country to recognise these offences as hate crime. Merseyside also has a dedicated Independent Sexual Violence Advocate for sex workers.
“By successfully applying for this funding, Merseyside Police in conjunction with South Wales police, will be able to take this work to the next level – keeping more vulnerable women safe and doing everything possible to end the stigma and marginalisation they face.”
Merseyside Police’s assistant chief constable Serena Kennedy said: “Sex work is an issue that can be challenging for some communities however, as a police service it is our duty to seek to protect everybody, especially those who are the most vulnerable within our communities, and this extends to all citizens including sex workers.
“Merseyside Police force will not tolerate violence against sex workers and we will make every effort to ensure that offenders are tracked down and face the full force of the law and that victims receive the justice they so rightly deserve.
“As a force we have already taken a progressive stance, which has influenced national policy. We treat attacks on sex workers as hate crimes, because they a vulnerable targeted group.
“This money allows us to provide support for the work around that vulnerable group of women and look towards targeting violent and sexual offenders, as we know their crimes are not limited solely towards targeting sex workers.”
A Great Step
I think this is a great thing. A couple of weeks ago we brought you the story from London where the Met Police were targeting sex workers instead of the people they had complained had robbed them. Yes, the law is a grey area, but there are ways you should interpret it, and there is certainly a sliding scale of crimes. Violence on sex workers certainly trumps being a sex worker. Merseyside seem to have it right.
With any luck, other police forces are doing, or will do in the future, the same things.
The most vulnerable in society need to be helped, not persecuted. It really is that simple.
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