Reporting to National Ugly Mugs and other Third-Party Reporting Schemes
National Ugly Mugs (NUM) https://www.uglymugs.org
NUM is a not-for-profit national organisation which aims to promote the safety of sex workers. It runs a national third-party scheme where sex workers can report crime and other incidents; they send out warning alerts to members of the scheme and can offer advice and support to sex workers who have experienced crimes.
NUM is a confidential service. It will only share your report with the police if you want that and give consent for them to do so. This is so important to NUM because it would lose its credibility and trust with the sex work community if it did not do this. NUM works with the police on crimes committed against sex workers, but is independent from the police.
There are various things NUM can be used for:
- You can directly report any crime or incident you feel uncomfortable with to National Ugly Mugs via the NUM website, app or call the office if you want to speak with someone. NUM employs experienced staff, who are trained to support sex workers who have been victims of crime, including harassment, and they have advised and supported hundreds of sex workers. So, you can talk to someone experienced, in confidence, who knows about the sex industry and will not judge you.
- National Ugly Mugs will just listen to you if that is all that you want.
- You can make a report to NUM and give them permission to record that information, create an alert which will be sent to all scheme members and alert other sex workers to the ugly mug, which can then help them avoid the ugly mug.
- If you wish and give permission, information about the incident you have experienced and reported can be shared with the police anonymously without any details that identify you.
- NUM can arrange for you to speak anonymously to your local police force (including to sex work liaison officers) or will speak to them on your behalf.
- The NUM scheme gives you the option of making a full formal report to the police. You can submit a report and tick that you want the report information to go to the police and that you want to make a formal report to the police. You can be supported and advised by NUM after the incident or at any point in the future.
- You can talk to somebody who is very experienced at dealing with crimes against sex workers about what has happened. This can involve talking through any info or support you might need from NUM or another organisation in your area.
- If you want, NUM will signpost you to services in your area that can support you.
- You can also report to NUM via a local project you know which is a member of the NUM scheme. They can make a report on your behalf without giving any of your details.
- Sign up or NUM online at: https://www.uglymugs.org
- Call the NUM office on 0161 629 9861 or email NUM at: firstname.lastname@example.org
Ugly Mugs Ireland https://uglymugs.ie/
Ugly Mugs Ireland is a not-for-profit technology initiative that improves the safety of workers in Ireland and reduces crimes committed against them by bringing workers together to share information about potential dangers. It is a free and confidential service for workers in Ireland and the UK. Sex Workers can join and then can:
- Receive warnings about potential dangers.
- Make reports about ‘bad clients’ and other dangers and be able to search and browse all reports.
- Check any phone number, email address, website username or car registration against the Ugly Mugs database.
- Use the uglymugs.ie app.
- Police Watch, share and view worker experiences of police.
- Access safety advice, health and legal information, and industry news.
- Anonymous third party reporting to police.
- Get details of Police Liaison Officers.
Reporting to or Contacting the Police
In an emergency when you feel at threat of harm, call 999 for police assistance and tell them what has happened, and get to a safe place. Program your phone so it has a speed dial to 999. Install an app that will dial 999 in response to voice recognition. It is free to ring 999.
If the person has left by the time the Police have been called, try to give a full description of clothing, physical description, direction of travel, mode of travel (if in a car, vehicle registration), any weapons used or threatened to be used.
You might want to call someone who you are comfortable with to go with you to a Police station. The police may wish to speak to you alone especially if this person is a witness or potential witness.
Police should be sensitive to your situation as a sex worker and the fact that some people may have other jobs or be students. Be as open and honest with the Police as you can be; they will only ask questions relevant to the matter that you are reporting. It cannot always be possible to speak to someone not in uniform but you can ask for that if it helps. All officers should be compassionate, understanding and professional but police should understand there may be some things which you wish to discuss with an officer of your gender.
101 for non-emergency response and non-urgent – this is for reporting that isn’t an immediate threat or danger to life.
Online reporting: most forces can now accept reports online, but remember that this leaves a digital footprint.
Options for police contact/reporting
Contacting the police does not mean that you have to make a formal report or that your case will have to go to court. There are various ways of sharing information with the police:
- A report of intelligence to assist the police: intelligence is very important to the police. The police will welcome intelligence about individuals you have concerns about and the information you have could be a part of a wider picture. They should not let the person who you have passed concerns about know that you have done so. On occasions police may come back to you to ask you more, this is usually to aid their investigations.
- Contacting Crimestoppers: this is anonymous – 0800 555 111. Crimestoppers is not the Police but an independent charity working to help communities. Sometimes there is a cash reward for intelligence given. You can also do this via their website; you do not have to give your name.
- A direct report of crime to the police.
- A report through your local project or NUM.
Sex work liaison officers: Some police forces have special sex work liaison officers or dedicated liaison officers. Find out if there is a sex work liaison officer in the area you live or work – NUM can help you with this, or your local support project, if you have one they can pass on contacts or contact them for you. If you are in Ireland UglyMugs.ie have a list of police Garda liaison officers which their registered members can access.
All police forces in the UK have a single point of contact for sex work, these are not necessarily sex work liaison officers. You can ask NUM to contact that person for you or for the contact for your area.
If you have experienced a rape or sexual assault most police forces now have specially trained officers who deal with victims of rape.
But remember every police officer should treat you appropriately and deliver a professional policing service whether they are a specialist officer or not. Police officers should take your report seriously, recognise your right to be safe and treat you with respect and dignity like all members of the community.
Making a complaint about the police
If you want to make a complaint about the police you have a few options:
- Contact NUM or UglyMugs.ie and they can advise, as can sex worker rights organisations and some local outreach and support projects.
- Complain directly to the police force involved.
- Make a complaint through your local MP.
- Make a complaint through a solicitor.
Most complaints are dealt with by the Professional Standards Department of the police force involved; all forces have one. They will record your complaint and decide how to deal with it.
Data Protection Concerns: Information Commissioners Office: You can make complaints to the Information Commissioners Office about concerns about various matters such as; how your personal data has been handled, if you have asked an internet search provider to remove links to information about you and they have refused and nuisance calls and messages. https://ico.org.uk/make-a-complaint/ They have a live chat facility and a helpline Tel: 0303 123 1113.