Merseyside to benefit from funding to
stop violence against sex workers
AN innovative project aimed at better
protecting street sex workers from sexual and domestic violence, exploitation
and trafficking will be launched on Merseyside and South Wales after receiving
₤650,000 of Home Office funding.
The Umbrella Project was awarded a share of the ₤17m Violence against Women and
Girls (VAWG) Service Transformation Fund after a successful collaborative bid
led by Merseyside's Police Commissioner, Jane Kennedy, and Merseyside Police, in
partnership with South Wales Police.
The 3 year project will put in place victim focused processes to better support
sex workers who have already been victims of violence and those who are at risk,
both on the streets and online.
The funding, ₤463,000 of which will be used in Merseyside and ₤187,000 going to
South Wales, will enable the Police and partners to increase and improve the
support they can offer to street sex workers in light of a recent influx of
overseas sex workers and a shift which has seen more women take up the work
The funding will also be used to improve the gathering of intelligence on those
who inflict violence on the women, while simultaneously encouraging victims to
report offences, so that more perpetrators can be brought to justice. This will
also prevent further offences from taking place.
To support this work in Merseyside, the grant will be used to find an
appropriate venue to act as a 1 stop shop of support, where women can access
help and services, give statements and even give evidence in Court via
Merseyside's Police Commissioner Jane Kennedy said:- "Merseyside has the
largest street beat of sex workers outside of London. Many of these women are
extremely vulnerable and are forced into this work because of difficult life
circumstances. This bid is designed to better support these women to ensure they
get the help they need, ideally so they can get off the streets, but for those
who remain, to ensure they are better protected and are able work free from
violence, abuse and exploitation. Merseyside Police has led the way for many
years in prosecuting and securing convictions against those who commit crimes
against sex workers, in large part by being the 1st Force in the country to
recognise these offences as hate crime. Merseyside also has a dedicated
Independent Sexual Violence Advocate for sex workers. By successfully applying
for this funding, Merseyside Police in conjunction with South Wales Police, will
be able to take this work to the next level; keeping more vulnerable women safe
and doing everything possible to end the stigma and marginalisation they face."
Assistant Chief Constable Serena Kennedy said:- "Sex work is an issue that
can be challenging for some communities however, as a Police service it is our
duty to seek to protect everybody, especially those who are the most vulnerable
within our communities, and this extends to all citizens including sex workers.
Merseyside Police force will not tolerate violence against sex workers and we
will make every effort to ensure that offenders are tracked down and face the
full force of the law and that victims receive the justice they so rightly
deserve. As a Force we have already taken a progressive stance, which has
influenced national policy. We treat attacks on sex workers as hate crimes,
because they a vulnerable targeted group. This money allows us to provide
support for the work around that vulnerable group of women and look towards
targeting violent and sexual offenders, as we know their crimes are not limited
solely towards targeting sex workers."
A total of 41 projects, including a bid by Liverpool City Council to provide
multi agency Early Help hubs, have been awarded a share of the VAWG Service
Transformation Fund, which aims to help prevent violence and increase early
intervention so that fewer women reach crisis point. 'The Umbrella Project' received the ⅛ largest amount of funding, after a bid
from South Wales Police Commissioner and the Mayor of London.