Membership of the National Ugly Mugs Scheme
The National Ugly Mugs Scheme allows projects, individual sex workers and establishments/online sites to report crimes committed against sex workers into a national database so that they can be alerted to offenders and to enable information to go to police national intelligence systems to aide in the investigation of crimes against sex workers.
Membership is required to be able to input reports and receive alerts and other information from the scheme.
Membership of the UKNSWP itself is not required. Members must agree to the terms and conditions of the NUM membership document. Once registered as members, projects and sex workers can submit information and reports and receive alerts. Membership of the National Ugly Mugs Scheme is free.
Membership requests are processed Monday to Friday between 9am and 5pm.
Types of membership
There are three types of membership:
This type of membership is designed for any agency doing some form of frontline work with sex workers. Some will already be operating or be a partner agency or file holder in an established ‘ugly mugs’, ‘dodgy punter’ or ‘assisted reporting’ scheme. This membership will allow said agencies to feed the information from sex workers into the scheme as third party reporting agents. When you join you will have a username and password to access the scheme.
In the event that there is evidence that an offender reported in an incident has committed another offence and there is an investigation on-going or that the police have other information relating to the offender, the police or relevant authority may ask us to make contact with you on their behalf to further their enquiries. Hence member projects may be asked to be intermediaries between their service users and the police as in many local schemes.
Escort site / establishment membership
This type of membership is designed for any site or establishment, commercial or voluntary, which works with sex workers or has sex worker members/employees to be able to report incidents as a third party agency and receive alerts to pass on to members/employees.
This type of membership is designed to enable individual sex workers who may have not contact with projects to report incidents into the scheme and likewise, receive alerts warning them of individuals who may pose a risk to them. It is open to any sex worker in the UK or Eire regardless of gender or working type. To become an individual member we require some very basic personal information. This is to ensure we are legally compliant with our responsibilities to individual sex workers and the wider community. We will never divulge any personal information to anyone without consent except in the following circumstances where we are bound by law to do so:
- Child Protection Issues
- To prevent the commission of a crime
- Where the risk of harm to you or others is so severe that not sharing would endanger lives
- Terrorism related
If we have to share, we will notify the individual as to why we are doing so and will only do so under legally binding methods. Individuals are free to leave the scheme at any time and can do so by emailing the scheme coordinator.
The personal information required by the UKNSWP for individual membership is as follows:
- Work name as a minimum. If an individual is comfortable giving their real name that will also be taken.
- Email address and/or mobile phone number.
The reasons we need this information are as follows:
- To prevent individuals who may pose a risk to sex workers gaining access to information about them thus allowing them to change their offending pattern and deter detection.
- We need either your mobile number or your email address to be able to send you alerts or warnings. If we need to contact you about an investigation we will email you.
- To prevent individuals having multiple membership.
- In the event that there is evidence that the offender has committed another offence and there is an investigation on-going or that the police have other information relating to the offender the police or relevant authority may ask us to make contact with you on their behalf to further their enquiries. In such circumstances UKNSWP will act as an intermediary, but the decision as to whether the member communicates with the police is entirely theirs.
If your membership is accepted you will have a username and password.
When you join the scheme as an individual sex worker, your information will be held on a secure server. Although it is extremely unlikely, as with any online data storage, there is always the risk of somebody trying to hack that information. We will take all precautions possible to protect your details. You may also choose to set up an email account and purchase a disposable sim card which are only used for Ugly Mugs. Monitoring is crucial to the success of this scheme and information you provide when you register such as gender, sector of work and area of work may be used for monitoring purposes but you WILL NOT be personally identified.
Additionally, if we were ever ordered by a court to reveal people’s information, all we would have would be an email and/or mobile number and a name. When you sign up you can opt out of receiving text alerts in which case you would not need to register a mobile number at all.
Quite rightly, during our consultation project, many of you wanted to know if the police and/or the Government would be able to access the personal information held about sex workers? The answer is ‘no’ for the following reasons:
- The data will be held securely by the UKNSWP on an dedicated, managed server that police and other agencies have no access to.
- A member only needs to provide their working name.
- We have taken expert advice on data sharing/information governance and it is highly unlikely that we would ever be forced (i.e. under a court order) to disclose client membership details as it is not a) in the public interest and b) goes against the ethos of the scheme.
- There is, in 99% of cases, a way to refute such requests under the Data Protection Act or any Freedom of Information request.
- As an additional safeguard, as explained previously, individual members can use a working or made up name, a disposable simcard with a mobile number that they use only for ugly mugs (remember you don’t need to provide a phone number if you do not want to receive alerts by text message) or create an email address just for receiving Ugly Mug alerts. That way, in the unlikely event that we were ever forced to share information by a court order all we would have would be a working name, disposable phone number and non-personal email. We would also challenge any such requests in court under Human Rights legislation, the telecommunications Act and other legal avenues. So, in a nutshell, it would take a lot of work & money for very little outcome and it would therefore be highly unlikely that any force would sanction such a spend just to find out if someone is a sex worker when they can go on punter net or adult work to identify people easily that way.
- A reasonable request, such as a Freedom of Information request, asking, for example, how many individual members we have, may be answered but anything more explicit enquiring about individuals would not.
Terms and conditions of membership
The following terms and conditions must be met and agreed to for membership of the UKNSWP National Ugly Mugs Scheme, as either a project, an individual or an escort site/establishment member:
1) For information submitted to the scheme to be useful, it needs to be done in as timely a manner as possible. We would therefore ask all members to input the information as quickly as possible to the scheme – ideally within 72 hours.
2) Organisation members will endeavour to attend National Ugly Mugs training events where possible and train staff appropriately to ensure that information is fed into the Scheme effectively.
3) All information shared with members in the form of alerts should be treated as sensitive and confidential. This is to prevent it getting into the hands of perpetrators which could undermine the aims of the scheme and put lives at risk.
4) Prior to being confirmed as members, organisations may be asked for more information about their work with sex workers.
5) Individual membership is for personal use only and while individual members can make third party reports, log in details must not be shared.
6) Organisation members must be security conscious when allowing staff to log-in to the Scheme and it is the responsibility of their key contact person to ensure that staff comply with the terms and conditions of their organisation’s membership.
7) Organisations who wish to become members must provide a link to their organisation’s official website and must provide an official email address which links to their organisation.
8) WE TAKE FALSE MEMBERSHIP AND MALICIOUS REPORTING VERY SERIOUSLY. Members found to be deliberately misusing the scheme for either of the above will have their membership revoked and their details passed on to the police. Please be assured that the following statement from the police will be enforced:
“The police take all reports of violence and harassment seriously and work with our colleagues to actively pursue all lines of enquiry and intelligence opportunities to seek out and prosecute offenders. If a member or individual were to abuse the trust that is so crucial to our success, this harms all of us. False reports are also a crime and can amount to an offence of perverting the course of justice which carries a maximum sentence of life imprisonment.”