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Brooks-Gordon champions campaign to keep sex workers safe

March 27, 2013 1:30 PM

Cambridgeshire County Councillor Belinda Brooks-Gordon is lobbying government over a national safety campaign to protect sex workers from violence and crime.

Cllr Brooks-Gordon, who represents Cambridge's Castle ward on the county council, has called on the government to give full funding to the National Ugly Mug Scheme - the only national scheme of its kind worldwide.

A year-long pilot for the project, funded by the Home Office, was launched recently aimed at gathering better intelligence and improving trust and co-operation between sex workers and the police.

It is supported by the police Serious Crime Analysis Section which equips officers to deal with and prevent serious crimes against sex workers.

Cllr Brooks-Gordon said: "Sex workers are extremely vulnerable and a magnet for dangerous people. There is strong evidence that they are more likely to be victims of violence and other crimes than non sex workers and far less likely to report incidents to the police.

"Our government needs to get behind this extremely worthwhile campaign, not only to give these workers the protection they need and deserve but also to target those individuals who put them in danger."

The pilot has been launched by the UK Network of Sex Work Projects (UKNSWP). The name of the National Ugly Mug campaign comes from the many sex work support projects and escort websites which have their own local ugly mugs/dodgy punter warning schemes.

Cllr Brooks-Gordon recently met Social Care Minister, Norman Lamb on his recent visit to Cambridge and enlisted his support for the campaign.

Rosie Campbell, Chair of the National Ugly Mugs Pilot Advisory Group said: "The support of local politicians such as Belinda Brooks-Gordon for National Ugly Mugs is invaluable in promoting the scheme, gaining support and increasing understanding about the scheme amongst the public.

"Belinda has been a real champion for this ground-breaking scheme, which is the only national scheme of its kind globally.

"NUM only went live in July 2012 and it is already meeting its objectives and making a difference for sex workers and the wider community.

"Sex workers and sex work support projects throughout the UK now have a central point where they can make reports of crimes against sex workers and receive rapid and regular alerts about dangerous individuals. A large number of reports have already been made into the scheme and intelligence about these have been shared with the police to aid in the identification and investigation of offenders.

"The Serious Crimes Analysis Section which receives intelligence from the scheme has stated that NUM data is already contributing towards filling intelligence gaps about serious sexual offenders.

"The public increasingly recognise that sex workers have a right to public protection and ensuring such, benefits all in our communities by preventing crimes."

Cllr Brooks-Gordon is pictured enlisting the support of Social Care Minister, Norman Lamb during his recent visit to Cambridge.