While researching for the Merseyside Model campaign, The Slutocrat came across the ACPO (National Association of Chief Police Officers) Guidelines on Policing Prostitution and Sexual Exploitation Strategy (yes, they have tied the two together because obviously sex work and trafficking are all the same thing). I don’t even think exploitation, rape and trafficking are the same thing – they’re all vile, but they’re different and you can be exploited without being raped or trafficked.
I thought tweeting some of the bad stuff would be enough, (I did that yesterday) but the more I read, the more I realised I had to do a blog on it. I’m not going to mention the good stuff that was in it, because The Slutocrat is going to do that (because we’re trying to publicise the Merseyside model and some feminists won’t click into my blog because it has the word ‘whore’ in the title – though apparently having ‘slut’ in the title is fine).
The guidelines themselves do make limited use of the term sex worker, and do acknowledge that sex work has a long tradition in human society. Sadly, the text of the guidelines seem to confuse sex work with exploitation and blur both with trafficking, and use of the term “prostitution” instead of sex work is consistent throughout. The focus on interfering in sex workers’ lives and trying to make them exit the industry is especially worrying, as even if the police do consider someone to be exploited, they could help them find non-exploitative roles in the sex industry. The police are told to treat all migrant sex workers as trafficking victims until they prove they know they haven’t been trafficked (p8) which is nonsensical at best, and ‘othering’ or disscriminatory at worst (from the point of view of migrant sex workers).
The guidelines refer to sex workers’ cards in phone booths and the sight of sex workers and clients as “visual pollution” and claims that the presence of sex workers is risky for “the vulnerable” (p9). It also seems to assume that all (not just some) sex workers are exploited: “People who use the services of sex workers may not consider themselves to be exploiters, but it is the sex workers’ loss of self-esteem (and/or drug dependency, poverty, etc.) that is often being exploited.” (p10)
The Guidelines state “A key aim must be to ensure that individuals donot become involved in prostitution in the first place” (p7) – apparently freedom of choice and the choosing of one’s career are unimportant in modern police-work.
And what about “Creating a bespoke intelligence “picture” for each local area of active sex workers, which includes new sex workers to the area, kerb-crawlers and exploiters/coercers” (p8) and building intelligence on clients, whom they call “users and abusers” (p10)? This might be a good thing to protect vulnerable street workers, but are workers in any other field of employment spied on by the State like this?
The police also admit to colluding with BT to remove sex workers’ cards from phone booths (p10).
“Prostitution is victim-centred, not victim-less” they state on p5 – and they obviously mean ALL sex work, not just some…looks like the radfems have sunk their claws into our police now. Which begs the question of what a radfem state would look like.
Remember how the police raided sex work establishments in the run-up to the Olympics, forcing workers to be questioned while still in their work clothes and deporting a few women? (No trafficking victims were found). Well, it seems like all along the police knew that there wasn’t going to be trafficking in the run-up to the Games: “Concerns were raised in a Metropolitan Police Authority report, published in 2009, that sex trafficking may increase in the lead up to the 2012 Olympic Games. At present there is no intelligence to support that such a trend is occurring. During the run up to the Games, the Human Exploitation and Organised Crime Command (SCD9) of the Metropolitan Police Service is working to disrupt prostitution [not just trafficking, but all sex work/”prostitution”]and rescue victims, including victims of trafficking [“including victims of trafficking” – what other victims are there? Victims of sex work??], in the five Olympic London boroughs.”
If they knew trafficking wasn’t going on, then stopping trafficking couldn’t have been their motivation for the raids. So- what was their motivation?
On the whole, the use of language is offensive and very stigmatising of the sex industry as a whole, but hopefully we can use these guidelines for a good purpose – to back up the implementation of the Merseyside model.
The ACPO’s Guidelines on Policing Prostitution and Sexual Exploitation Strategy