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Shelly stoops is the only ISVA officer in the UK specifically working with sex workers. She works with sex workers in Liverpool to find ways of reducing risks of violence. Her work, especially with street workers and her close liaison with the police in Liverpool has produced some amazing results.
Violence against sex workers is now treated as a hate crime and the resulting rise in convictions alongside a fall in assaults is proof that positive policing as opposed to aggressive policing as used in Bradford actually works.
This article in the Liverpool Echo highlights the success that she and her team in Liverpool have achieved. The approach taken by Liverpool police if applied nation wide may not only help to deter violence against sex workers but if it had been applied in Shipley may even have prevented the awful murders from happening.
What is certain is that there has to be more effort made by the police to break down the negative distrust most sex workers feel toward them. The police have to protect sex workers and sex workers have to trust the police.
A UNIQUE health worker who helps prostitutes today called on the UK to adopt Liverpool’s work to prevent a repeat of the Bradford murders.
Independent sexual violence advisor (ISVA) Shelly Stoops said the killing of three women in the Yorkshire city highlighted how vulnerable vice girls are.
She is the only ISVA in the UK, part of a pioneering service run in Liverpool to protect prostitutes from harm.
The conviction rate for rapes against sex workers now stands at 67% thanks to the service, set up in 2005.
The national conviction rate for rape in the general population is 6%.
Ms Stoops is employed by NHS Liverpool Community Health, but works closely with Merseyside police on a daily basis.
She said: “I believe the work we do can prevent murders from happening.
“The events in Bradford are tragic and we need to roll out more support services to stop this happening again.
“If we catch men who rape or violently attack sex workers, then this can stop a chain of events. We can do this because the women trust and come forward to us.”
The service offers emotional support for women who are victims of sexual violence.
It helps them deal with the ordeal and supports them if they want to go to the police.
The project also has fast-track arrangements with the Royal Liverpool Hospital’s Gum female clinic and Abacus sexual health clinics, so victims can be referred as quickly as possible for health checks.
The project actively encourages women to report sexual violence through the Ugly Mugs scheme.
It means prostitutes can report violence anonymously and this in turn is passed on to other sex workers to warn them about violent individuals.