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Saturday, August 07, 2010

A police PR gaffe

I am astonished by this article in today's Guardian in which they report on a police operation to "out" prostitutes even when they have not been convicted of any crime:

Six street-based sex workers in Newham, east London, were named on the Metropolitan police website. Police posted their photos, full names and dates of birth.

In a second case, two Polish women who were selling sex from their home in Aldgate, east London, were raided by City of London police as part of Operation Monaco.

Operation Monaco was launched in May 2009 but police have admitted that just one charge of controlling a prostitute for gain has been made, as well as 52 charges for placing cards in phone boxes advertising sexual services.

Police took photographs of the Polish women, who were not charged. Last Sunday, photos appeared in News of the World. The women said they were distressed by the police raid and the lack of warning that their pictures would appear in a tabloid newspaper.

Quite apart from the danger the police are putting these women in and the fact that they are effectively prejudging their guilt, this action seems to be particularly stupid because of the subsequent and inevitable break-down in relations that will ensue.

As one of the women said: "The police were looking for money and found £50 from a customer," she added. "We never use drugs and are always sober when we're working. The police kept asking us over and over again if we'd been trafficked. We haven't been, and we signed a piece of paper to say that.

"If the police continue to behave like this, none of the women doing sex work will speak to them if they do have information about any crimes. I think they have been watching too much Diary of a Call Girl."

Georgina Perry, the manager of an NHS sex work project in east London called Open Doors, said: "I'm very disappointed with the police. They can't go around asking the community to police vulnerable women. It encourages vigilantism."

Meanwhile, all that the Association of Chief Police Officers can say is that their guidelines "clearly state that working with the media on operations can assist in the prevention and detection of crime." Well yes it can, but if it is only the media who end up talking to you as a result then you really have shot yourself in the foot. There are better and more subtle ways of dealing with this problem as is evidenced elsewhere.
And I thought you were referring to THIS:

What's happened to police training in recent years?
What the police have done is made these women's lives more difficult, they will probably be targeted by criminals, possibly from Eastern Europe who will have no qualms about taking over their lives
Lets face facts, crime has pretty much gone out of control, specifically in the South Wales Police area. I would say something in favour of the Met, they are doing something, although I don't approve of what they are doing.

My particular area of South Wales, Heroin is freely available, I was offered some the other day, whilst walking my dogs. I've seen kids in the street with baseball bats, I think I can safely assume that they aren't going to be playing baseball. There also appears to be a glut of pitbull fighting dogs.

I witnessed someone being assaulted at 6:30 in the morning, unfortunately it was about 50 metres from the local cop shop, but this doesn't open until 9 am (then shuts at 5pm). The copper who attended the incident some 15 minutes after the even then had the cheek to call be "Butty"!

There is also a general consensus in the area that we get the dregs of South Wales Police stationed up here. The can usually be found in the cafe of the local Tesco's if anyone is looking for them.
This appears to be the action of the Met's ‘Human Exploitation and Organised Crime unit.’

“Operation Monaco” caused some red faces in the city in the News of the World. Interestingly, the paper was invited by the police to join them on their inquisition:

The unit appears hell bent on the so-called strategy of "reducing demand" for sex services, and I think the sex workers' anonymity was simply regarded as expendable.

Another ASBO case, with no charges, appeared in the press last Thursday, involving Thames Valley Police. I spent 30 years in journalism and never saw a press photographer take a mug shot like this, so I presume it’s a police photo, though I’ve no evidence:
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