CCTV, Alarms & Personal Safety

Physical Security Systems

If you work from home or a work apartment and can afford it, there are several things you can install for safety which are well worth it.

  • Install secure door locks and a strong door. Make your windows and doors burglar proof.
  • If the property and space enable it, install security lights to signal when someone approaches the property and so you can more easily check them out.
  • Fit a video intercom so you can see the entrance.
  • Fit a spy hole so you can see who is at the door.

CCTV can be installed at your work place. This can be a deterrent and also is important, so you can check who is at the door and in the vicinity of the building. Be careful: there is guidance on CCTV and this advises that people have the right to protect their property, this can be done by using a CCTV system where it is necessary, such as a security measure. However, the Surveillance Camera Commissioner recommends that users of CCTV systems should operate them in a responsible way ‘to respect the privacy of others’, for example, will it overlook the neighbours? Have a sign up that there is CCTV.

CCTV also communicates to customers that there is a record of them arriving and that can deter crime. Some sex workers have CCTV or webcam inside pointing to the entrance clients will use. But CCTV can bring up the issue of exposure for the client and may not be for everyone, depending on their confidentiality policy. Some camera systems can now be linked to your mobile phone and have a range of functions.

  • Panic buttons: if you do work from your own home or work place, fit panic buttons. As with house alarms and personal alarms these may not attract other people but may shock and deter attackers. Some panic button systems can be linked to a central system office.

Escape Routes: wherever you are working from, be it home, short term apartment let, hotel, customer’s home, always be aware of escape routes. Consider a building’s layout and escape route options when you are making a booking for a short-term rental and a longer-term work flat rental. If doing outcalls and working in an unfamiliar building, assess your escape routes as you enter the building and from the spaces where services are provided.

Personal Safety Alarms

Suzy Lamplugh Trust:  specialises in personal safety advice, including work-related safety for lone workers. They advise all people to carry personal safety alarms and they produce specific info about which alarms to use and how to maximise their use. The following is mainly extracted from their website

  • Alarms are meant to shock and disorientate attackers so you have crucial seconds to get away. It is a common misconception that alarms will attract others but if there is no one around, or others are far from us, they may not be attracted to the sound.
  • This is why the sound an alarm gives out is really important and it needs to be loud and shrill so it literally shocks the attacker enough, so they pull away.
  • The most effective sound is continuous, over 130 decibels, ( 138db is ideal). You might find a nice compact alarm but it may not be loud enough. So before buying check the decibel level.
  • Think about what alarm works best for you. You need one that is easy to carry and that you can set off easily in one hand. Is a push cap, push button or pull-out pin better for you? Don’t get an alarm that is too fiddly. Think where you will have it so you can easily get it in an emergency. It’s no use hidden at the bottom of your bag!
  • Suzy Lamplugh recommend alarms that can be operated with one hand which enable you to activate it easily and covertly.
  • The best way to use an alarm is to set it off and hold it as close to the attacker’s face as is possible.
  • Drop the alarm and make your escape, leaving as quickly as possible and moving to a busy place if possible.
  • Some sex work support projects and organisations provide free personal safety alarms.

Remember: A personal alarm should be just one part of your personal safety plan. There are lots of other ways in which you can help to reduce the risk of violence and aggression.

Work Clothing

  • When dressing for work be mindful that certain clothing items can be used against you.
  • Check your clothing is ‘straight-jacket proof’ and can’t be pulled over your shoulders to lock your arms.
  • Be aware a scarf or other item round your neck can be grabbed and used to choke you. Some people avoid scarves and necklaces altogether.
  • If you choose to wear necklaces or earrings, try and make sure they are small, come off easily. Avoid large hoop or dangling earrings which someone can grab and tear off.

Personal Safety and Self Defence

  • Personal safety courses can be useful for raising awareness about safety techniques. So, if you have opportunity to attend, give it a go. Some sex worker organisations and projects offer courses for free which have been designed specifically for sex workers:.
  • Some people in the sex industry learn self-defence or martial arts finding such training can help with confidence and assertiveness. Yet it is important to consider that the Suzy Lamplugh personal safety trust advise that self-defence should only ever be used as a last resort and that the first aim should be to get away from an attacker.
  • Remember also that if you use excessive force, you could be legally liable. The law in relation to self-defence and reasonable force is outlined by the Crown Prosecution Service.

Weapons, the Law and Safety

If you have something  to defend yourself remember it could be used against you. Also, you may be breaking the law, this will be case specific. But be aware in any event the use of any weapon could potentially lead to an allegation being made against you.

Drugs and Alcohol at Work

  • In the BtG survey, not using drugs and/or alcohol at work was identified as a safety strategy by many online sex workers.
  • If you do use them when working, try to use in amounts that keeps you in control.
  • Avoid accepting drugs from clients, you can’t be sure what you are taking.
  • Be aware drinks can be spiked – if you are offered a drink in private ask for an unopened can or bottle or serve yourself.
  • Be aware if your customer is under the influence of alcohol or drugs.