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The police have issued a report into human trafficking called project acumen which you can read here. It is worth reading but is disappointing in that it fails to report anything really new. Much of what the report tells us is just common sense. For example; it points out that most migrant sex workers are in London and that sex workers, the further you move from London are mostly British. Most trafficking appears to exist within ethnic communities but how trafficking is defined is contentious. Also that trafficking is even less than the governments often quoted 4000 victims. These are facts any sex worker and probably any member of the public could have told the government over a cup of tea and slice of cake which would have been a lot less expensive than project acumen.
Basically the report fails to provide any evidence of human trafficking on the vast scale claimed by anti sex work campaigners. Despite this it does of course do its best to make the numbers sound far more serious, especially in the press release which of course resulted in some sensational head lines.
Sensationalist headlines about sex work are however nothing new and they rarely, if ever stand up to any investigation. The report however, despite failing to report the thousands of victims that anti sex work campaigners wanted also fails to acknowledge that many of the problems faced by sex workers are the cause of negative legislation rather than sex work it self.
The report also talks in terms of sex work being a secretive industry which makes the collation of information difficult. I am sorry but this is hard to accept. When it comes to criminal activity sex work has to rate as the most publicly accessible of any crime imaginable. It seems absurd for the police to claim that the sex industry is hard to access when the newspapers are full of adverts for sex workers. Thousands of clients manage to find sex workers every day through out the UK but the police can’t?
From my own personal experience as a sex worker I know that the police know where sex workers work, who they are and where brothels are; indeed the police often drop in for a chat.
Any sexual abuse and any victim of human trafficking is a tragedy that should be investigated but for anti sex work campaigners to use human trafficking as an excuse to justify huge amounts of expenditure or further negative legislation against the sex industry is wrong and certainly this report fails to supply the justification they so often deamnd.
Stephen Patterson has written an excellent appraisal of the Acumen report here which I recommend reading. Having read both the report and Stephens’s article I left the following comment on Stephens blog:
It is frustrating and worrying that the media in general are unwilling to read reports correctly and to analyse them. It seems that cheap sensationalist headlines that emotionalise arguments rather than rationalise them are preferable. Both genuine trafficked victims and the vast majority of sex workers are; as a result offered no protection by the law but instead suffer because of bad laws.
The anti sex work lobby are very obviously upset over this report because once again an official report fails to provide the evidence that would justify their demands for yet more bad legislation and even more money.
The greatest tragedy of the the whole trafficking debate is that so many careers and reputations depend upon the maintenance of a mostly manufactured hysteria.