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URGENT action today re Policing and Crime Bill

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I'm really sorry for the short notice, but I'm writing to ask you to do one quick thing in the final stages of the Policing and Crime Bill. This afternoon (Wed 4 Nov), there will be a meeting with Lord Skelmersdale, who is dealing with this Bill for the Tory party. The Tories can swing the vote.

Below is a draft letter to send to Lord Skelmersdale as soon as possible. If possible, please change it a bit - it will be much more effective if they receive variations, rather than identical texts (shorter is much more effective than longer). Send to

and cc

It's worth writing any time up to mid afternoon Thursday as they don't start debating till about 2pm and they have other business first. You can watch or listen live at

Many thanks,


subject line: URGENT Policing and Crime Bill - brothel closure orders

Dear Lord Skelmersdale

I'm sure you've had lots of letters and emails about this, mostly from people who will not live with the consequences of this legislation and have no personal experience of the sex industry.

I work in the sex industry - my safety and livelihood is at stake. I'm a (brief self description).


I don't work in the sex industry - but I know people who do and care about their safety.

I'm writing to you to ask you and your party to vote down section 21, brothel closure orders. Although all the new provisions on sex work will cause harm and increase danger, section 21 does the most harm to the most people, effectively removing the protection of the law from almost everyone in the indoor sex industry, as the law currently defines a brothel as any location with more than one sex worker.

Section 21 gives wide-ranging powers to be used at the discretion of the police. No proof is required, and it is irrelevant whether the officer applying the order has suspicions that an offence has been or will be committed.

Sex workers will know that the police have power to close premises immediately without evidence and that police have a financial interest in prosecutions under the Proceeds of Crime Act. Calling the police will be a gamble as whether they choose to protect or to prosecute us.

Criminals make a rational choice to target sex workers who work together and will often refer to our criminalised situation, saying things like "What are you going to do about it - call the police, and they'll book you." If you wish violence, robbery and abuse against indoor sex workers to dramatically increase, section 21 creates ideal conditions for this to happen.

There are few votes in defending the rights of sex workers, and presenting us as victims offers dramatic individual stories. The voices of people actually currently working in the industry have been consistently ignored. We hope your Lordships will listen to us, and that you will decide to act for our protection.

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Happy to email. Is there a central site for this campaign I can send others to?

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Attached in from the ECP this evening. I loved the bit about Baroness Scotland saying WGs were 'damaged goods'. Dear god, she has some room to talk!:cool:

Dear xxx,

Thanks so much for writing to the Lords. They have told us their mailboxes were full and that our campaign had an enormous impact! I enclose the comment we are just working on about the Bill going through the Lords last night. It isn't our final word on it - we will hopefully have something more comprehensive tomorrow but thought you'd like to see our first thoughts.

Best wishes,


In the House of Lords debate on the Policing and Crime Bill last night, the government in pressing for the criminalisation of clients, claiming that it was on the grounds of women's safety, said nothing about other measures in the Bill which will increase criminalisation of sex workers both on the street and in premises. Clause 14 was the smokescreen that allowed significant changes in the law such as increased arrests of street workers, compulsory rehabilitation and the closure of premises where women work together in relative safety, to pass without even a mention.

Clause 14 of the Bill - a strict liability offence of having sex with a prostitute subjected to force - reduces rape against prostitute women to a lesser offence punished by a fine. Making it a strict liability offence deprives clients of any defence and undermines a fundamental principle of the law that "intention" is needed to prove guilt. Like with ASBOs where hearsay evidence was allowed to become commonplace, prostitution is being used to undermine fundamental rights, no doubt with dangerous consequences.

The public consistently demonstrates its concern that sex workers' should be protected from violence, most noticeably in the aftermath of the Ipswich murders but also in the last few days where a poll found that 2/3 of people agreed that sex workers should be allowed to work together for safety. In contrast the government's spokesperson Baroness Scotland described sex workers as 'damaged goods'; showing what they think of us -- first of all as 'goods' and then as 'damaged'.

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