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 Sex workers put in danger by police

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13th February
2011
  

Diary: A Case Against Reprehensible Policing...

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Sex workers put in danger by British policing

ecp logo Abuse of Process case against Surrey Police on behalf of Hanna Morris
Monday 21 February
10am Guildford Crown Court

Hanna Morris said:

I would like to thank everyone who gave their support, either in body or spirit, for my court case on 4 February. It is gratefully appreciated. This is a harrowing time for my family and I, but we are strengthened by knowing that people's thoughts are with us. The case has been adjourned till 21 February, if anybody would like to attend court you'd be very welcome as we hope to put forward a strong united front.

The case aims to stop the prosecution of Ms Morris who reported a violent attack and now faces charges for brothel-keeping and money laundering.

On 16 September 2009, Ms Morris dialled 999 when two identifiable men, one who appeared to have a sawn-off shot gun up his sleeve, barged into a flat used by her escort agency, threw petrol around and threatened to torch the place. Anxious to protect the women who work for the agency, Ms Morris innocently helped the police investigation.

The abuse of process case is being brought because:

  • The investigation against the dangerous men has been dropped, but Ms Morris is being prosecuted.
  • Ms Morris's gave the police information on the understanding that it was needed to pursue the attackers. Without it, Surrey Police would have no evidence against her.
  • Ms Morris was never at any point cautioned that what she was telling the police would be used as evidence against her.
  • If the judge rules that there has been no abuse of process, Ms Morris will ask the court to exclude evidence obtained from her, from any proceedings against her.

Ms Morris' solicitor Nigel Richardson (Hodge Jones and Allen) wrote to Surrey Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) to ask for the prosecution to be dropped as it is completely contrary to the stated aims of trying to improve the safety of sex workers and that it is hard to see how a prosecution in this case can do anything but . . . make would-be attackers more confident in their actions and increase the dangers for working women. . . the prosecution of this offence is likely to directly discourage the reporting of crimes against potentially vulnerable women and thus increase risks to their safety.

Why is Ms Morris being prosecuted for trying to protect women and ensure that violent men are not free to attack others? The Director of Public Prosecutions claims to prioritise women's safety. What does he have to say about this prosecution?

The prominent anti-rape group Women Against Rape comments:

90% of rapists go free. Prosecuting Hannah Morris who tried to bring two violent men to justice is perverse. Rapists and other violent men often target sex workers assuming they cannot call the police. If sex workers are denied the protection of the law, this vulnerability is magnified. The CPS and police should prosecute rapists, not victims.

Is profiteering by police and CPS behind this surge of prosecutions? Hanna Morris is not the only woman who is being prosecuted in this way. The CPS's record is riddled with such injustices. Under Proceeds of Crime law the police keep 50% of assets confiscated during raids and 25% from subsequent prosecutions, with the CPS keeping another 25% and the Inland Revenue the rest. Ms Morris's home and life savings have been frozen pending confiscation if she is found guilty.

English Collective of Prostitutes

020 7482 2496
www.prostitutescollective.net
ecp@prostitutescollective.net

 

16th August
2012

 Offsite Article: National Ugly Mugs Scheme...

Protecting Sex Workers From Predators

See article from huffingtonpost.co.uk

 

26th October
2016

 Updated: And of course no trafficking victims were found...

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Protests against police raids of sex work premises in Soho

english collective of prostitutesProtest organised by the English Collective of Prostitutes (ECP) with Sex Workers Open University and Sex Workers' Opera
Monday 24 October, 12-1pm
Home Office, 2 Marsham Street, London, SW1P 4DF

Six premises in Chinatown and Soho, where sex workers were working, were raided on Thursday night. 18 people were arrested. 12 women have been removed on immigration grounds. Many immigrant sex workers work in Soho, most of them mothers supporting families in the UK and other countries. Thai women were particularly targeted in these raids.

Police slapped closure notices on the doors of premises and threw women out onto the street. The police and Westminster council claim the raids were to save trafficked women, and crack down on prostitution and drugs. But yet again no victims were found. Flats opposite gentrified areas were targeted for closure and police took 35,000 in cash, fuelling suspicions that profiteering and land grabs are behind the raids. Women called the English Collective of Prostitutes (ECP) saying that the raids have left them terrified.

ECP's Laura Watson commented:

Yet again anti-trafficking policies are being used to justify raids and deportations against immigrant sex workers. Some women in the area suffered violent attacks and robberies in recent months but the police did nothing. Instead police resources are being squandered on raiding women working together in the relative safety of flats. We are living in very harsh times with more women, particularly mothers, having to sell sex to ensure their children are fed. Why isn't the government taking action to rein in the police, stop the raids and prioritise women's safety? Benefit sanctions and other cuts have left women destitute and must be repealed.

Ms Watson was interviewed yesterday on Woman's Hour about a new report documenting huge increases in women selling sex for basic survival. This scandal has come to national attention since Ken Loach's award-winning film I, Daniel Blak e launched this week. It tells the story of Katie, a single mother going into prostitution after she and her two children are made destitute:

After the arrests last night, four women and one man were charged with controlling prostitution -- an offence which penalises anyone who associates or works alongside sex workers. Closure Notices have been endorsed by the courts yesterday morning ensuring that women had no time to challenge them, in breach of their legal rights.

Police crackdowns like this are happening all over the UK. Research by the ECP shows that between April and September this year there have been at least 50 closures of premises with hundreds of women criminalised. This targeting of women must stop.

protests against police raidsVideo Reports: Sex workers protest against police raids in Soho

26th October 2016. See video from prostitutescollective.net