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Avon and Somerset PCC supports pioneering Scheme on International Day to End Violence Against Sex Workers

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Ugly Mugs Scheme

Sue Mountstevens, Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC) for Avon and Somerset, is today (17.12.13) marking the International Day to End Violence against Sex Workers by pledging her support for National Ugly Mugs (NUM).

The pioneering Scheme, which helps improve the safety of street sex workers across the country and which has been running for around 18 months, has already had a significant impact leading to 11 convictions of serial offenders. 

Avon and Somerset Police and Crime Commissioner Sue Mountstevens said: “Tackling violence against women and children is one of my priorities in the Police and Crime Plan and I welcome any initiatives that work towards eradicating this unacceptable behaviour from our society.

“I am delighted to be supporting the National Ugly Mugs Scheme as I feel it sends a strong and powerful message to offenders that targeting any individual regardless of whether or not they are a sex worker will not be tolerated in Avon and Somerset.

“I also want any victim of violence in particular sex workers to know that we are here working together to support them and I would strongly urge them to come forward and report to ensure that offenders are brought to justice.”

Since 1990, 141 sex workers have been murdered in the UK and since NUM launched in July 2012 there have been almost 600 incidents reported, almost a quarter of which were sexual violence.

Despite the severity of the incidents that are reported to NUM, in less than third of them the victim is willing to formally engage with the police meaning that the perpetrators cannot be apprehended, putting the public at risk.

Alex Bryce, Manager of the National Ugly Mugs Scheme said: “I am delighted to learn that Sue Mountstevens has formally supported NUM and pledged a contribution to help keep the Scheme running.  She has also emphasised to me her determination to ensure that NUM intelligence is being utilised throughout the force.

“NUM is a pioneering, life-saving initiative but without support from Police Forces and PCCs we would not be able to continue so it is a credit to Sue Mountstevens that she has pledged her support and I am looking forward to developing a strong partnership in the future.”                                                                                                    

The Scheme now has a direct membership of more than 1400 individual sex workers and over 250 organisations offering frontline support to them, as well as this the Scheme is improving the relationship between sex workers and the police, encouraging reporting.

Assistant Chief Constable Chris Armitt, National Police Lead for Prostitution said: “The International Day to End Violence Against Sex Workers is the day when we remember all the sex workers throughout the world who have been victims of violence, targeted because of what they do.  On this day it is really important that we recognise the pioneering work of Scheme here in the UK, I believe passionately that NUM is a vital Scheme and it would be a tragedy if it did not secure the funding to continue to grow and save lives.”

NUM works closely with local sex work project One25 in Bristol who were awarded with an NUM Star Project Award last year, a local project which has also been visited by PCC Sue Mountstevens.

The Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO) is encouraging police forces throughout the UK to make small donations to keep this important and cost-effective scheme going.

Martin Hewitt, ACPO Lead for Adult Sexual Offences said: “Without the NUM many if not all of the more than 460 victims who have reported to the Scheme would have suffered in silence as they may not have had the confidence to report directly to police.  The message is clear it is about ensuring that all of us – police, health services, charities and other partners work together to deliver the best possible service to our victims.”

Posted on Tuesday 17th December 2013
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