London sex workers “fear the police will abuse their powers” against them

single woman

Newham Council has proposed a public space protection regulation for Romford Road (Image: Getty)

The police could use their extended powers against sex workers in the east London, a campaign group has claimed.

The English Collective of Prostitutes has called Newham Council’s proposal for a public space protection order for Romford Road a “crackdown” on sex workers, adding that it would only “undermine” their safety.

Such commands are often used to stop anti-social behavior such as public drinking, and violating it is a criminal offense.

This means anyone caught buying or selling sex faces an immediate fine of £100 and can be charged up to £1,000 in court.

Niki Adams, a spokeswoman for the network, told Metro.co.uk that sex workers are “so terrified” of the Metropolitan Police being given such extended powers because they fear they could abuse the new measures.

“These are discretionary powers, so no one will monitor how officers use them,” she said.

“Especially since so much has come out about it being sexist, racist and misogynistic
and abusive are the cops. People get the point that it’s the same police force.

“It’s not like there are two different police forces, one of which is making rape threats
WhatsApp and another force monitoring sex workers.

met police

Anyone caught buying or selling sex faces an immediate £100 fine (Picture: Getty)

“People don’t believe that. There is definitely a split within the police force on this issue. But that means officials who don’t support it will have to speak up.

Ms Adams’ comments come after a report revealed systemic flaws at Scotland Yard that have allowed too many “obnoxious” officials to stay on the front lines.

The Met acknowledged that the actions of a minority of the force’s officers have “seriously damaged” public trust, and in some cases women’s trust in particular.

However, a spokesman stressed that their actions do not represent the majority of officers who are “hardworking and motivated to help the public and those most vulnerable.”

Under Newham Council’s proposal, the arrangement would be implemented at Stratford, Forest Gate South, Green Street East, Green Street West, Little Ilford and Manor Park.

The actual number of workers affected is still unclear as many travel to Newham for work.

But the English Collective of Prostitutes has already received a series of frantic calls from members of the district on its hotline.

Previously, Redbridge Council imposed a PSPO on Ilford, which the campaign group said only resulted in the eviction of women.

Ms Adams stressed that this would also happen to Romford Road workers, who would be ‘shunned’ to a more isolated area where they would face abuse.

Newham Council argues that the order is about targeting those who exploit women – not the women themselves.

It was proposed following complaints of anti-social behavior from local residents.

Ms Adams said: “Perhaps some local residents are understandably upset about noise and disruption on the roads, but the council is guiding and misrepresenting the situation for these people by suggesting that a PSPO will work. It will not.

“One of the reasons there are more women on Romford Road at the moment is because a PSPO has been imposed in Ilford.

“Of course women were pushed to another place. If you crack down on this area, women just have to go elsewhere.

Newham Police Station

England collective of prostitutes says sex workers in area are afraid of cops (Image: Google)

“Women are constantly being moved without really changing their situation, and nobody is addressing the issues that push them into sex work in the first place.”

Ms Adams added: “The last time there was a police crackdown in the area, women were forced to the edges of Wanstead Flats, an area of ​​parkland and woodland that lacks good street lighting and is quite dark and isolated .

“You don’t have the protection of having people around you.”

Members of the UK Collective of Prostitutes cite poverty, welfare and homelessness as the main reasons they entered the industry.

Over the past year, the campaign group has seen a surge in calls from women concerned about the cost of living crisis.

Ms Adams revealed that there are instances where women who have been able to leave prostitution – sometimes for several years – are now going back into it because they just can’t make ends meet with their other jobs.

She stressed that there is a direct link between the imposition of more sanctions on social services and the increase in women working on the streets.

The campaign group has seen a sharp rise in calls from women concerned about the cost of living crisis (Image: PA).

August and early September also saw a spike in calls as mothers tried to raise money for their children’s uniforms and other school-related expenses.

“Women are destitute. If you don’t have savings or capital and you don’t have an opportunity to make money, one of your few options is to take to the streets and make money,” Ms. Adams explained.

“So, Newham’s response, which is a Labor council and should know better about poverty and care about violence against women, is to impose a crackdown that will drive women to other areas and increase the number of women with criminal records .

“Once you have a criminal record for prostitution, you are barred from many other jobs. So your chances of leaving the industry are greatly reduced.

“What we hear most from our helpline is from women who have had their services sanctioned, or who have been evicted by their landlords, or who are in terrible debt.

“Most of them are mothers. In some cases we hear from desperate women who haven’t eaten in a few days. It is a very devastating crisis that we are facing.’

In turn, Newham said the order is part of a strategy that “sensitively” recognizes the complexities of prostitution and the diversity of people involved.

“We want to reduce the stigma and exploitation of street and off-street sex workers and are working within our public health, adult social care and community safety teams to ensure they are safe,” added a spokesperson.

“Community safety partners are already working to support women involved in sex work through a multi-agency approach focused on providing support for their needs through appropriate interventions and referrals.

They added that the order is about targeting those who exploit women, not the women themselves.

Meanwhile, the Met said that should a PSPO be introduced, the force would continue to review its impact and how it is being monitored to ensure “the best outcome for everyone in our community”.

A spokesman added: “Officials fully recognize that many sex workers are vulnerable and victims of exploitation. We also know that they are more likely to be victims of physical and sexual violence.

“While officers are responsible for enforcing any applicable law or local orders, if we determine that a sex worker is a victim or in need of protection, we will prioritize that assistance.

“We know how important it is to build mutual trust and confidence so that sex workers can report issues to officers either directly or through third party organisations.

“These lines of communication also allow us to improve the safety of those who, for whatever reason, are involved in sex work in our community.”

Get in touch with our news team by emailing us at webnews@metro.co.uk.

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https://metro.co.uk/2022/12/11/london-sex-workers-frightened-police-will-abuse-increased-powers-against-them-17881921/ London sex workers "fear the police will abuse their powers" against them

Justin Scacco

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