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elrond

Soho closures and letters to Jacqui and Sir Stevens

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I know this has already been posted, I make no apology in posting it again because the original post got lost in a huge thread on A B and C. Please don't discuss legislation on this post, just constructive criticism of the template letters.

I have a couple of template letters you might want to AMEND and send to the following. I would also suggest you include your MP. These were crafted by an IUSW member Douglas Fox. Re emails it is better if using a template to alter it a little otherwise they do tend to get ignored unless there are thousands. Also like all emails or letters it is often quantities of concerned emails that have effect.

The more people who write to their MPs as well. Something indeed anything to the point will be noted and the more concern that is shown then the better and more likely that the MPs will pay heed. Quite simply they need votes and they want support. An MP who feels he is going against the majority of his/her constituents is not a happy MP.

Jacqui Smith, Home Secretary,

Email: smithj@parliament.uk

Fax: 020 7035 3262

Head of Clubs and Vice

Charing Cross Police Station,

Agar Street

London, WC2N 4JP

Sir John Stephens,

Metropolitan Police Commissioner,

New Scotland Yard, 8-10 Broadway,

London, SW1H 0BG

Please send copies of any letters to:

English Collective of Prostitutes, ecp@allwomencount.net

John McDonnell MP, mcdonnellj@parliament.uk

Richard Faulkner, House of Lords , faulkner@parliament.uk

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Idea for letter to home secretary Jacqui Smith

Dear Jacqui Smith MP (Home secretary)

I am concerned at the government's proposals to further criminalise sex work by criminalising the clients of sex workers who are controlled for gain and targeting brothels.

Two girls working together for security and companionship is legally a brothel. The majority of sex workers like the majority of British subjects choose to work for a third party for anonymity, security and because safe businesses provide social support networks. It is unfair and unjust that sex workers should be denied the same rights as any other working person. There is decades of collated evidence that indoor sex work is the safest place for sex workers and the majority of evidence including raids during pentameter 1 and 11 prove that there is little evidence of coercion or trafficking. Despite this the government is planning new laws to target safe places of work and indeed is already doing so.

During recent raids in Soho police arrested and threatened with controlling for gain Ms Tracey Ramsey a brothel receptionist who is also the sole carer for her elderly father who also has Alzheimer's. This was despite the fact that there was no evidence of any abuse or trafficking. Receptionist and other support staff employed to ensure the safety of sex workers are being targeted under unfair laws that do not differentiate between coercion and genuine managements who are employed by sex workers to perform specific roles ensuring safe business practises. The government talks a lot about ensuring the safety of sex workers and yet creates laws that target safe places of work and ensures that sex workers are alienated and vulnerable.

I would ask you to stop closing safe working premises and instead recognise the legitimate demands of sex workers to be afforded the same rights as any other UK worker. I would ask that as home secretary that you speak to and listen to sex workers and look at New Zealand where sex workers human rights are recognised in law.

Only by recognising people's rights will you stop injustice. The government is targeting an already vulnerable sector of workers and forcing them underground and into the hands of criminals. This is simply wrong and I ask that the home secretary does the right and just thing and stop persecuting sex workers.

Yours truly,

Name.

-----------------------

Sir John Stevens

The head of club and vice..

Remember they are separate addresses and seperate people.

Dear Sir John Stevens/Head of clubs and vice.

I was dismayed that police have raided a brothel in Soho and have threatened to arrest Ms Tracey Ramsey on charges of controlling prostitutes for gain. Ms Ramsey was employed as a receptionist. There were no signs of coercion or trafficking.

It is a concern that already bad laws will be further exacerbated by the government's proposals to target brothels. Decades of independent research have shown brothels which legally can be just two women working together to be safe places (if free from coercion) for sex workers. The government also plans to criminalise the clients of sex workers controlled for gain which as you know will effectively mean the clients of the majority of sex workers who choose for reasons of anonymity, security and social support to work through a third party. The effect of these policies will be to push an already criminalised group of workers underground and into the hands of criminals. I hope you agree that further criminalising and marginalising an already stigmatised sector of our community will only further alienate those involved in sex work and make them further vulnerable to exploitation and abuse.

I ask you to use your discretion to stop raids and prosecutions of people involved in providing safe environments for sex workers and that you use any influence you have to persuade the government not to precede in pushing for more negative legislation targeted at sex workers. Only inclusion and rights have ever stopped abuse not criminalisation and exclusion.

Name

-------

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The original alert was from the ECP

. . ACTION ALERT . . . ACTION ALERT . . . ACTION ALERT . . .

Police raids in Soho endanger sex workers' safety

On 18 December, three police officers from Charing Cross Clubs and Vice Unit visited a flat in Romilly Street, Soho, London and issued a written notice against Ms Tracey Ramsey* who works as a receptionist there, that they intend charging her with "controlling prostitution for gain". Soho has been one of the safest places for women in the sex industry to work. As a receptionist, Ms Ramsey is women's first line of defence against violent attacks and exploitation. If the police are allowed to proceed against Ms Ramsey, other receptionists will be driven away and women will be forced to work alone. Why are police targeting safe premises?

Details of the raid

The police are familiar with this and other flats in Soho. The police notice claimed that their visit was "to check the welfare of the occupants and to ensure that there are no juveniles or trafficked victims working at the location". It threatened charges such as: "to keep or to manage, or to act or assist in the management of a brothel"; "controlling prostitution for gain" as well as "causing or inciting child prostitution". No underage or trafficked women or any evidence of force or coercion was found at the premises, and none had been found during the weekly visits by the police during the whole month of September. This is an abuse of process.

Ms Ramsey is a mother and grandmother and has been in Soho for 30 years.

She is a registered carer for her father who has Alzheirmer's and suffered a stroke. Her situation is similar to that of many other women who have contacted us recently after being charged with "brothel-keeping" or "controlling". Many are mothers supporting children; at least three have children with disabilities. One woman started working after the Inland Revenue sent her a £6,000 bill for overpayments of child tax credit. Others are struggling to keep bailiffs at bay following threats of repossession on their home or suffer from ill heath.

New legislation to be announced on 19 January

These raids and prosecutions are aimed at preparing the ground for new legislation being announced on 19 January which would force women into "rehabilitation", make it easier for the police to close brothels and arrest kerb-crawlers, and make an offence of "paying for sex with a person who is controlled for another person's gain". Such measures would force prostitution further urderground, adding to sex workers' vulnerability and stigma.

What is a brothel?

The word brothel conjures up images of big exploitative establishments.Yet by law two prostitute women sharing premises to work constitute a brothel, even if no force and coercion are involved. Many women prefer to work in such brothels because they offer greater safety, companionship and lower running expenses. Working indoors is 10 times safer than working on the street. Why should women not be allowed to work in this way?

Impact of the raids

Receptionists such as Ms Ramsey face criminalization and imprisonment for up to seven years (increased from six months by New Labour). Immigrant women face deportation; clients face "a hefty fine and a criminal record".

Police profit directly from raids

Since the Proceeds of Crime Act, raids have become profitable for the police. They receive 25% of any assets confiscated both at the time and from subsequent prosecutions. The Crown Prosecution Service keeps another 25% and the rest goes to the Inland Revenue, ie the government. It is common for the police to seize any money found on the premises. Even if no one is charged, the money is rarely returned as police take advantage of sex workers' reluctance to go public. Women who have worked for years to put money aside lose not only their livelihood but their home, car, life savings, jewellery, etc. This exploitation by agents of the State is the worst form of theft and pimping. We believe it is a main reason why raids are now high up on the police and government agenda.

Government statistics on trafficking are false

The figures the government is using to justify raids are based on blatantly discredited research which claims that 80% of women working in the sex industry in the UK have been trafficked. Convictions for trafficking are distorted because the UK definition of trafficking for prostitution, unlike trafficking for any other industry, does not mention force or coercion. This enables every woman with a foreign accent to be labelled a victim of trafficking!

Measures that would help women get out of prostitution

The government has done little to address the homelessness, poverty, debt and domestic violence, which were established as key factors driving women into the sex industry. With women's hourly wages ranging from £5.73 to £11.67, enforcing pay equity would also reduce the number of women working in prostitution. In New Zealand where decriminalisation became law five years ago, sex workers' criminal records were expunged making it easier for women to leave prostitution if they want to. Sex workers recount being more able to report violence and insist on their rights.

Rape and violence against sex workers dismissed

The conviction rate for reported rape is a shameful 6%. Sex workers who have been attacked face particular discrimination when seeking justice. Seven women came to the ECP in a two month period reporting rape and other attacks which the police had refused to investigate. One woman was told to gather the evidence herself; another was forced out of her flat by a raid and was violently attacked on the street.

WHAT YOU CAN DO:

Write protesting that these raids will isolate sex workers from essential support and force women out of the safety of premises onto the streets. Demand an end to the prosecution of women working in the sex industry, including for brothel-keeping and "controlling" if no force or coercion is involved. Please send your complaint to:

Jacqui Smith, Home Secretary,

Email: smithj@parliament.uk

Fax: 020 7035 3262

Head of Clubs and Vice

Charing Cross Police Station,

Agar Street

London, WC2N 4JP

Sir John Stephens,

Metropolitan Police Commissioner,

New Scotland Yard, 8-10 Broadway,

London, SW1H 0BG

Please send copies of any letters to:

English Collective of Prostitutes, ecp@allwomencount.net

John McDonnell MP, mcdonnellj@parliament.uk

Richard Faulkner, House of Lords , faulkner@parliament.uk

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I am a bit confused as to how the police could give written notice of intention to prosecute for 'controlling for gain' - I thought the law was still under consideration and not yet in place (this is intended to be a query about the accuracy of the information contained in the letter - if the letter contains inaccuracies, it's effect will be lessened)

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I am a bit confused as to how the police could give written notice of intention to prosecute for 'controlling for gain' - I thought the law was still under consideration and not yet in place (this is intended to be a query about the accuracy of the information contained in the letter - if the letter contains inaccuracies, it's effect will be lessened)

Controlling for gain is already on the statute books; I believe it replaced the old charge of living off immoral earnings, & can be applied to anyone who facilitates a sex worker (male, female or transgender, even if the government ignores the existence of the first & last of these) conducting business & receives recompence.

This charge can be invoked to prosecute parlour management, receptionists, escort agencies, maids or, technically, a taxi driver who takes a ssex worker to & from an appointment with a client & is thus can take in a huge range of activities; regardless of JS, HH, et al's attempts to present it as specifcally targetting pimps & those who coerce others into sex work.

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I am a bit confused as to how the police could give written notice of intention to prosecute for 'controlling for gain' - I thought the law was still under consideration and not yet in place (this is intended to be a query about the accuracy of the information contained in the letter - if the letter contains inaccuracies, it's effect will be lessened)

I am not sure the SOHO case helps the cause for the following reasons. The majority of the flats used in SOHO are run by people who the government would call criminals. I do not have up to date facts but when I worked in SOHO I knew quite a lot about the flats and people who owned them. Rents can be 400 pounds a day... so a girl works her ass off some days just to pay the rent. The rent is or was at least never accounted for to the Revenue.

It may be not like that now but I some how doubt it has changed that much. It would be much better if a properly run Brothel / Parlour that does pay tax and does not charge to high a percentage of the girls earnings as rent or what ever we should call it would come forward and replace the SOHO case.

Lionel Hardy used to run such a place and for 15 years I knew him very well and even assisted him in his photographic business and I knew the girls too. He was taken to court twice. He went to prison Twice and I looked after the property once while he was away. If he were still alive today I am sure he would spearhead a campaign to alter the proposed law to allow some kind of licence for properly run establishments.

My feeling is that using weak cases where criminals may well be involved ( yes I know even well run brothels are run by criminals ) is counter productive.

What we need are some " decent" brothel owners to start a campaign, people where the only crime they commit is the running of the brothel. No tax cheats or drug dealers pimps etc should get involved.

I have not yet seen any comments from the well known establishments who post here. It is going to be their businesses that are destroyed if this becomes law and I thought they may contribute more.

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Controlling for gain is already on the statute books; I believe it replaced the old charge of living off immoral earnings, & can be applied to anyone who facilitates a sex worker (male, female or transgender, even if the government ignores the existence of the first & last of these) conducting business & receives recompence.

This charge can be invoked to prosecute parlour management, receptionists, escort agencies, maids or, technically, a taxi driver who takes a ssex worker to & from an appointment with a client & is thus can take in a huge range of activities; regardless of JS, HH, et al's attempts to present it as specifcally targetting pimps & those who coerce others into sex work.

Thanks. As requested by Elrond, I will not pursue this discussion on this thread

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I am not sure the SOHO case helps the cause for the following reasons. The majority of the flats used in SOHO are run by people who the government would call criminals. I do not have up to date facts but when I worked in SOHO I knew quite a lot about the flats and people who owned them. Rents can be 400 pounds a day... so a girl works her ass off some days just to pay the rent. The rent is or was at least never accounted for to the Revenue.

It may be not like that now but I some how doubt it has changed that much. It would be much better if a properly run Brothel / Parlour that does pay tax and does not charge to high a percentage of the girls earnings as rent or what ever we should call it would come forward and replace the SOHO case.

Lionel Hardy used to run such a place and for 15 years I knew him very well and even assisted him in his photographic business and I knew the girls too. He was taken to court twice. He went to prison Twice and I looked after the property once while he was away. If he were still alive today I am sure he would spearhead a campaign to alter the proposed law to allow some kind of licence for properly run establishments.

My feeling is that using weak cases where criminals may well be involved ( yes I know even well run brothels are run by criminals ) is counter productive.

What we need are some " decent" brothel owners to start a campaign, people where the only crime they commit is the running of the brothel. No tax cheats or drug dealers pimps etc should get involved.

I have not yet seen any comments from the well known establishments who post here. It is going to be their businesses that are destroyed if this becomes law and I thought they may contribute more.

This was argued on the thread http://www.northern-pleasures.com/forum/index.php?topic=3047.0

The receptionist in question probably like most people in the industry started life as a working girl and then for various reason moved on to become a receptionist. Most people in this industry have associations with in the industry. Over 30 years the laws have changed considerably. It was only in 2004 that the laws relating to controlling came into force and few would believe that they would be used to convict a receptionist.

Unlike the mythology many of you operate under the majority of these flats in Soho are rented by the girls who themselves employ a receptionist who is usually a retired working girl. The police one has to assume picked on the receptionist because she was an easy target.

This will mean that fewer people will offer to do this job forcing the girls to work alone and therefore increasing their vulnerability. This is the point. It is bad law that obviously is supported by many on here but soon many on here will be the victims of bad laws themselves so lets wait and see.

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For anyone intending to send letter - note that Sir John (now Lord) Stevens retired as Met Police Commissioner around 5 years ago, to be replced by Sir Ian Blair (himself 'sacked' by Boris Johnson earlier this year). The current incumbent is Acting Commissioner Sir paul Stephenson.

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Thanks, sod it I should have checked. I just thought that the whole letter and alert were totally correct. It had been read by several people.

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