Safety first: Stop prosecution of sex worker
who reported serious attack
On Wednesday 23 June, Hanna Morris was charged with managing / keeping a brothel after she reported a serious attack. She faces up to seven years in prison.
Her colleague is charged with assisting in the management of a brothel and her partner who had nothing to do with the business, is charged with handling criminal property.
Please write to Neil Sweet, District Crown Prosecutor, Surrey firstname.lastname@example.org 01483 468 224 asking why womenís safety is being endangered in this way.
Please copy your letter to us and to Portia Ragnauth, Surrey Chief Crown Prosecutor email@example.com 01483 468 205
Gateway, 31 Power Close
Ms Morris is available to be interviewed. Contact: English Collective of Prostitutes Tel: 020 7482 2496 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Last September, without hesitating, Ms Morris dialed 999 to report a serious attack into a flat used by her escort agency. Two identifiable men, one with a sawn-off shotgun up his sleeve, barged in, threw petrol about threatening to torch the premises and to hold the woman there against her will.
Ms Morris did all she could to help the police on the understanding that the information she gave would be used in the pursuit of the assailants. The attack was initially taken so seriously that helicopters and sniffer dogs were brought in, and the next door shopping precinct cordoned off. But within hours Ms Morris and her partner had been arrested; another colleague was subsequently arrested.
Nine months later, not only are Ms Morris and her colleagues being prosecuted, but the case against the violent assailants has been dropped. Ms Morris comments:
ďIt used to be rare that I would hear about robberies in the area, we worked as part of a close community and were always looking out for one another. Now there isnít a month that goes by when Iím not hearing that a place has been robbed or a girl attacked, itís becoming more and more common, and everyone is too scared to report it. There have been six robberies in the last two months, none of which were reported, and thatís just those that I have heard about. Itís really quite frightening.Ē
We have told the CPS that by prosecuting sex workers who report attacks instead of their attackers, police and Crown Prosecution Service are making women more vulnerable. The Bradford and Ipswich murders took place after police crackdowns drove sex workers further underground and into more danger. Women didnít report attacks for fear of arrest and violent men knew they could act with impunity. Surrey has shockingly low conviction rates for reported rape Ė nearly half the already disgraceful national average rate of 6.5%.
They are also acting against public opinion, which has time and time again prioritised safety. The acquittal of Ms Claire Finch on 29 April is a clear example of that. Ms Finch was prosecuted because she worked together with other women, even though they were all consenting adults and no force or coercion was used. But the jury agreed that it was safer to work collectively and found her not guilty.