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.
We know you are working towards making our society safer with the recent review you instigated of the way police investigate domestic violence and with your introduction of the new law to fight human trafficking.
Declaring crimes committed against people in prostitution as hate crimes affects sex trafficking victims and sex workers, and by dramatically increasing convictions of rapists, murderers and other violent criminals, society as a whole is made safer.
You recently said, “We have a duty to provide vulnerable people with the best possible protection.” We recommend you back this up with immediate action to protect the most vulnerable in our society to rape, other violence and murder.