Criminology seminar series Leeds Beckett University, 17th November 2015

Teela Sanders and Rosie Campbell speaking on the hate crime model at the Leeds Beckett Criminological Seminar Series.

Violence against sex workers is a reality well known across research and practitioner disciplines and is a constant concern regarding the vulnerability of certain groups of sex workers. With at least 153 sex workers murdered in the UK since 2000, this issue should be a priority in terms of policing interventions, investigations, intelligence gathering and preventative partnership work. Perhaps equally important, evidence currently available points to the inadequacies of the law which criminalises sex work in the UK, further creating the conditions where violence can be generated and tolerated.

This paper brings together three crucial strands of argument to set out why decriminalisation is a safer and more rights based model of regulation. First, we present an analysis of the most up-to-date information on the types and characteristics of crimes against sex workers (from reports to the National Ugly Mugs scheme). Second, we explore specifically the hate crime reports and discuss how the ‘hate crime approach’ to sex work is not an alternative to decriminalisation but fits into and wholly supports a model of decriminalisation. Finally, we use this evidence about levels of violence and the hate crime model to argue for decriminalisation of sex work in the UK to put an end to the precarious position of sex workers in society.