National Ugly Mugs raises concerns over spate of police raids of sex work premises across the UK.
National Ugly Mugs (NUM) urges police forces across the UK to carefully consider their actions before committing to more brothel raids and closures. Sex workers and support services are telling NUM that the raids are ostensibly about arresting and/or deporting sex workers found in premises
This is contrary to the police and media publicity that describes enforcement actions as a way of combatting trafficking, exploitation and coercion. Justifying the raiding of brothels using a "saving vulnerable victims" narrative whilst treating sex workers as offenders and deporting them, further erodes trust and undermines confidence in the police which will ultimately lead to more dangerous offenders getting away with their crimes. Public protection should be key consideration for police rather than pandering to populist anti-immigration narratives or caving to pressure from immigration services."
NUM challenges the police to be transparent in this matter and to consider how they are reducing threat, risk and harm to sex workers in line with their National Police Guidelines on working with sex workers. NPCC Guidelines clearly state that brothel raids create mis-trust and can undermine sex worker safety. How many sex workers have actually been arrested, accused of running brothels or deported vs supported to access services?
It is high time that we stop the enforcement carried out under the guise of protection and start to focus on the real support needs of sex workers. Enforcement and protection do not go hand in hand and it is disingenuous to suggest otherwise. We urge the police to reflect upon the harm they can cause with these continued and heavy handed actions and ask them in particular to reflect upon a multi-agency approach to supporting sex workers. Where there is concrete intelligence to suggest crimes of trafficking, control and coercion we value and support police activity but from the information NUM are hearing we are most concerned that this is not the case.