• Petitioning Rt Hon Mrs Theresa May MP

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Rt Hon Mrs Theresa May MP

Rt Hon Mrs Theresa May MP: Make the Merseyside hate crime model of policing prostitution law UK wide

    1. Jackie Summerford, Ruth Jacobs & Alex Bryce
    2. Petition by

      Jackie Summerford, Ruth Jacobs & Alex Bryce

      London, United Kingdom

Bonnie Barratt was the mother of a young son when she was murdered at the age of 24. Bonnie’s killer was a regular to women in prostitution in the East End of London. He’d been rough with some of them and they’d stopped going to his flat.

Unfortunately Bonnie's story is not unusual. People in prostitution are made ‘easy targets’ for criminals by the current laws because they do not have the protection of the police and recourse to justice. Many suffer being dismissed or blamed by the police when they report crimes committed against them, and many end up being treated as criminals instead of the victims of crime they are.

But a policing model that has been operating in Merseyside since 2006 has delivered astonishing high conviction rates for crimes committed against people in the sex trade. It means rapists, other violent criminals and murderers are being taken off our streets, preventing countless more violent crimes.

In Merseyside crimes committed against people in prostitution are dealt with as hate crimes. The Merseyside model prioritises the protection of people in the sex trade over enforcement of the law when they have been the victim of a crime.  

The national average conviction rate for rape is a mere 6.5%. In 2010, a 67% conviction rate was achieved for those who raped sex workers in Merseyside, and even higher in Liverpool in 2009, reaching a 90% conviction rate.

That's why we are campaigning for the Merseyside model to become national policy. We know personally how much difference it will make if people in the sex trade feel safe and supported to report crimes to the police. Jackie Summerford is Bonnie's mother, Ruth Jacobs was formerly in prostitution and Alex Bryce is the Manager of National Ugly Mugs and we don’t want others to suffer because of the Merseyside model not being in operation throughout the UK.

Together we are launching this petition calling on the government to make crimes committed against people in prostitution hate crimes.

We want the government to give people in the sex trade the same human rights afforded to all other citizens and stop putting all women and girls in our society in greater danger of being the victims of rape, other violence and murder.

If the Merseyside model was in operation in London, Bonnie's killer might have been reported to the police before and she would be alive today. Women are being raped, beaten and killed, and we have to stop this.

Please add your name to our petition.

Recent signatures

    News

    1. BBC Woman's Hour Discussing the Merseyside Model on 30 July 2014

      We're delighted to hear that BBC Woman's Hour will be covering the Merseyside hate crime model of policing prostitution.

      "Should attacks on sex workers be treated as hate crimes? That’s the approach in Merseyside and thousands of people have signed a petition to roll the scheme out across the country. We discuss the merits of this approach with one of its chief architects, Detective Super Intendent Tim Keelan. Jenni also hears the views of a sex worker in Edinburgh, where the police have adopted a very different approach."

      30/07/2014, Woman's Hour - BBC Radio 4

      For a better experience on your device, try our mobile site. Should attacks on sex workers be treated as hate crimes? That's the approach in Merseyside and thousands of people have signed a petition to roll the scheme out across the country.

    2. Shelly Stoops and Jackie Summerford are in the Liverpool Echo

      Shelly Stoops, the first specialist Independent Sexual Violence Advisor for sex workers in Merseyside and long time campaigner for the Merseyside model, is with Jackie Summerford, Bonnie Barratt’s mother, in the Liverpool Echo. Detective Superintendent Tim Keelan from Merseyside Police is also featured, and they’ve had a response to our petition from the Crime Prevention Minister Norman Baker.

      http://ruthjacobs.files.wordpress.com/2014/04/shelly-stoops-and-jackie-summerford-merseyside-model-liverpool-echo-4-14.pdf

    3. Meeting with ACC Chris Armitt, National Police Lead for Prostitution

      We've yet to hear from Mrs May, but as Home Secretary responsible for freeing up the police to fight crime more effectively, I hope we do. However, we did hear recently from Assistant Chief Constable Chris Armitt, the National Police Lead for Prostitution, and he met with me, Jackie Summerford, mother of Bonnie Barratt who was murdered at age 24 in the sex trade, and Alex Bryce, Manager of National Ugly Mugs, to discuss our campaign.

      Based in Merseyside where he is Assistant Chief Constable for People Development, ACC Armitt sees first-hand the benefits to people in the sex trade, the police and the wider community of the hate crime approach. Since 2006 when they adopted the model, reporting of crimes against sex workers has increased and their conviction rates for rapists and other violent criminals are astounding, making all of society safer. Here he explains why he advocates for the Merseyside model of policing prostitution.

      National Police Lead for Prostitution, ACC Chris Armitt, Discusses the Merseyside Hate Crime Model

      Based in Merseyside where he is Assistant Chief Constable for People Development, ACC Armitt sees first-hand the benefits to people in the sex trade, the police and the wider community of the hate crime approach... Here he explains why he advocates for the Merseyside model of policing prostitution.

    4. Kent Police Scheme Meant to Help Women in Prostitution Instead Caused Harm

      "In 2009, Kent Police began a scheme in Medway called Safe Exit, supposedly to help women leave the sex trade by offering treatment for drug and alcohol addiction, training and education, and housing. These services along with others such as trauma therapy are needed by many women seeking to leave prostitution. But what our investigation uncovered was that instead of receiving these services, the women received a criminal record, a major obstacle preventing people leaving the sex trade by hindering other employment chances and keeping them trapped in prostitution...

      This was not a scheme concerned with helping a group of vulnerable women. It was a scheme concerned with gentrification...

      'Cleaning up the streets' campaigns come at the cost of human life and utterly fail women involved in on-street prostitution. The opposing model operating in Merseyside, which prioritises the protection of people in the sex trade over enforcement of the law, is what works."

      Kent Police 'Safe Exit' Scheme Claiming to Help Women in Prostitution Instead Caused Them Harm

      This was not a scheme concerned with helping a group of vulnerable women. It was a scheme concerned with gentrification. The award Safe Exit received from Police and Crime Commissioner, Ann Barnes, was for 'cleaning up the streets' and not for any help given to women leaving the sex trade.

    5. Reached 50,000 signatures
    6. The Merseyside Hate Crime Model That Prioritises Protection of Sex Workers

      "This joined-up approach prioritising protection over enforcement enables women in the sex trade to feel safe reporting crimes committed against them. Because trusting relationships with the police have been developed, reporting of crimes has dramatically increased. Women in prostitution in Merseyside know when they call the police they will be treated as any other victim of crime as is their right. But although this is the right of every person in prostitution throughout the UK, it is not what they receive and that has to change."

      Policing Prostitution - The Merseyside Hate Crime Model That Prioritises Protection of Sex Workers

      Bonnie Barratt was only 24 years old when she was murdered in 2007 in East London. The serial killer who took her life might have been stopped and Bonnie might still be alive today if her friends had been able to turn to the police.

    7. Reached 8,000 signatures
    8. Jack the Ripper copycat murders spark call for sex worker protection

      "Brown was jailed for life for Bonnie and Xiao’s murder in 2008. During his trial the prosecution told the Old Bailey that the women were targeted because they “both lived on the edge of society and were soft targets for the killer, who thought that neither woman would be missed”.

      It is this invisibility that makes sex workers particularly vulnerable to violent crime. But campaigners believe a novel policing method adopted in Liverpool might be a solution. In 2006, following a series of murders of prostitutes, Merseyside police decided to change the way they interacted with sex workers.

      They appointed intermediaries not directly employed by the police to help sex workers report violent customers; they avoided making unnecessary arrests for soliciting; and they ordered officers to deal with any violent crime against a sex worker as a hate crime."

      Jack the Ripper copycat murders spark call for sex worker protection

      The nearest thing Jackie Summerford has to a grave for her murdered daughter is a small pine bookshelf in her front room. It is covered in poems, candles and trinkets - her way of remembering her youngest child, Bonnie Barrett, who was murdered by a serial killer who police believe was imitating Jack the Ripper.

    9. The emerging tensions between police forces on how to police prostitution

      "The failure of West Yorkshire Police and other forces to fully adopt the 2011 guidance is indicative of a fundamental difference of opinion, perhaps even tensions, among senior police officers from different forces about how to police prostitution... These tensions are now spilling out in to the mainstream media. In a Guardian article from January 2014 about the murder of Mariana Popa, two of Britain’s most senior police chiefs (both ACPO members) – Chris Armitt, assistant chief constable of Merseyside police and the national police lead on prostitution in England and Wales, and Martin Hewitt, deputy assistant commissioner of Scotland Yard and the lead for adult sexual offences at the Association of Chief Police Officers – denounced the police approach to prostitution as a mess and said that operations to tackle the trade are “counterproductive” and likely to put the lives of women at risk."

      The emerging tensions between police forces on how to police prostitution

      In a previous post (The policing of prostitution in West Yorkshire) I discussed how West Yorkshire Police is not following the Association of Chief Police Officers 2011 Guidance for Policing Prostitution and Sexual Exploitation in at least two important aspects, namely treating crimes against sex workers as hate crimes and employing Independent Sexual Violence Advisors...

    10. Medway's aggressive policing of prostitution compared to Merseyside model

      A BBC1 documentary investigating a Kent Police scheme to help women leave the sex trade showed it had actually caused the women harm and was a "political PR stunt" according to public servants associated with the scheme. The documentary also shows the Merseyside model approach which leads the country.

      It is horrific outcomes such as this from poor police strategies that do not involve sex work projects and are not concerned with the interests of people working on-street, but instead gentrification, that demonstrate the urgent need for the life-saving Merseyside model to be made law so every police force can protect people selling sex and keep all of society safer by convicting more rapists and other violent criminals.

      The documentary can be watched on iPlayer from 16:16 mins here: http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b03pr9vx

      BBC One - Inside Out South East, 13/01/2014

      Why violent crimes against sex workers are going unpunished, and Kent and Sussex floods.

    11. Reached 500 signatures

    Supporters

    Reasons for signing

    • Esther Algarrada Vicioso MADRID, SPAIN
      • 1 day ago

      Me gustaría que se siguiera el modelo en España.

      REPORT THIS COMMENT:
    • Spencer Tasker NORTHAMPTON, UNITED KINGDOM
      • 2 days ago

      This is a basic human rights issue - people have a right not to be phyically abused. This is particularly important if they are vulnerable and exploited to begin with. So implement this policy nationwide and then follow it up by criminalising the purchase of sex, the pimping of others and the operation of premises for the purpose (principal or ancilliary) which facilitate or benefit from the purchase of sexual favours.

      REPORT THIS COMMENT:
    • Josephine Tasker NORTHAMPTONSHIRE, UNITED KINGDOM
      • 2 days ago

      Do what they do in Scandinava arrest the men who go to the prositutes. Not the prositutes

      REPORT THIS COMMENT:
    • Donna Johnson PALATKA, FL
      • 10 days ago

      Woman have rights and this should be dealt with as the law requires! Murder is murder! Rape is rape! No one is different!

      REPORT THIS COMMENT:
    • michael pratt FIFE, UNITED KINGDOM
      • about 1 month ago

      I think the women should be protected at any cost as there is no limit on someones well being.

      REPORT THIS COMMENT:

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