Charities have called on police to stop criminalising sex workers as figures reveal that more than a dozen cases of persistent street prositution were recorded in Birmingham last year. This refers to when a person persistently offers their services as a prostitute on a street or public place - and it is the sex worker who is criminalised in these instances, not their customers.
Over the course of the year, there were 15 cases of persistent street prostitution recorded by police in Birmingham. While the figure might seem small, it is one of the highest s of recorded offences in the country.
In most areas in England and Wales, including most of the West Midlands, no cases of street prostitution were recorded as a criminal offence at all. In general, men and women who are charged with soliciting for prostitution for the first time will usually be cautioned and given encouragement to access support services. If they are charged on multiple occasions, they may receive a fine or an anti-social behaviour order.
However, charities warn that criminalising sex workers for street prostitution is not the answer.
This is why soho road has become birmingham's new red-light district
Recently BirminghamLive ed West Midlands Police and the Handsworth Community Action Group street watch to see how women are being safeguarded and kerb crawlers, prosecuted. There are women who have been raped, robbed, beaten and worse - but desperation pushes them to continue selling their bodies for cash. We spent six hours with Handsworth Community Action Group and West Midlands Police on their seventh patrol of to see how prostitutes are safeguarded and kerb crawlers tackled.
But despite their trauma, men still eyeball them, negotiate prices through car windows and engage in sex on rotting flytipped sofas and in darkened street alleyways. If this sickening 'demand' for prostitution on Soho Road disappeared, so would the street walkers, police stress.
Helping birmingham's prostitutes get their lives back
In just six patrols, police caught 21 men with sex workers on the busy road, where kerb crawling has become a "neighbourhood priority". Officers dished out awareness courses, warnings and one even faced court for using the women for sex. The prosecutions handed out by police are effective too, with officers claiming: "We've never seen the same man twice.
A police letter to their home address - exposing their wrongdoing - is the last thing these often-married men want. But shockingly, the demand is so high, officers are being "kept busy" by new waves of immoral men picking up the girls. Many of the sex workers lingering on street corners six months ago have vanished from the area, thanks to the police patrols. Though, now officers are battling with a different set of prostitutes who moved in to take their place.
SAGE is a unique collaboration between law enforcement, public health, social services, and private agencies. We need to focus our efforts on lifting everyone out of poverty and providing health, income security and safe and affordable housing to the poor and working classes.
Birmingham hookers go for $5 and up, police say (photos)
Across England and Wales, the of these offences being recorded by police has been falling year on year. There were instances recorded nationally in the year to September - down from the year before, and in the year to September Other say that the fact that some cities - such as Birmingham - are still much more likely to see street prostitution recorded as a criminal offence shows a lack of consistency in how police are dealing with sex work.
By Annie Gouk.
James Rodger Regional Content Editor. Video Loading Video Unavailable.
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Sex on birmingham's streets - the city's persistent street prostitution revealed
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