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I was sent this article written by Steve, Newcastle Escort . He asks in the article very similar questions to those posed by myself in a previous article published just after the scheme was launched. I think that, considering the growing criticism, those who run this nation wide ugly mug scheme should respond with answers. If they are to promote the Ugly Mug Scheme as something worth supporting to those whom it is supposed to help then they must convince those people that the scheme is useful and that it works and is effective. That does not seem to be the case.
There’s been a lot of hype about the Nationwide Ugly Mugs Scheme which is a pilot scheme introduced by the UKNSWP. I was sceptical about it when I first heard about it a few years ago and now it has been introduced I am even more sceptical about it’s usefulness.
Who is truly benefiting from the Ugly Mugs scheme? It’s certainly not sex worker’s like myself. Take as an example a recent release from the Ugly Mugs scheme. It relates to a complaint made by a male sex worker who didn’t get paid by a client who was drunk and told him he kept a knife, in a box, on his bedside cabinet throughout the appointment. Extracts from the warning read: “business was agreed to take place at the man’s home which was a flat in a communal block in Basildon” and continued with “He is described as; 45-49, White, 5ft 9, stocky, shaven grey/white hair, blue eyes and pale complexion, with a local accent and scars to his torso” . Yes the warnings are as vague as this. No address, no phone number, nothing.
Sex workers like myself need to access real information if we are to protect ourselves. Phone numbers released that look like this “0*********1” do nothing to help, neither does communal block in Basildon. There are probably about 200 similar blocks of flats in Basildon. To be honest the description sounds like every other client who has walked through my door in the last two weeks. In reality sex workers only get to see a client when he/she /they arrive, they don’t furnish us in advance with a photo album to check out if they have hidden scars. It’s too late once we are in the flat and naked to suddenly realise that he does have a scar and a knife just like the character mentioned in the vague description released as an alert from the nation wide ugly mugs scheme.
I’ve read and been told that the Ugly Mugs scheme is designed to help sex workers stay safe. “David 07***4****1 ginger cropped hair, stocky” doesn’t help anyone stay safe. Are sex workers to be expected to carry around a small note book with phone numbers partly blanked out, that we then have to double check against the often thousands of phone numbers most of us already have stored in our phones? and are we expected to do this in often a very short time. No, in reality that is not how the business works. The police are quite happy to release on Crimewatch and the local news, mugs shots of people they’re interested in, yet we just get “Bloke with dark hair and a ‘tache with scar on his leg” or starred out mobile phone numbers. Mobile phones DO NOT recognise part phone numbers.
Basically most of the information that the Nation wide Ugly Mugs scheme release is absolutely pointless.
So who is the scheme really for?
The Ugly Mugs scheme is effectively just another pat on the back for sex worker do-gooders, something extra for their CV’s, a step on the promotions ladder for many. How many of the UKNSWP board have been actual sex workers, if they had been they’d realise that we need hard facts like addresses and phone numbers and if they can’t give that information out then they should stop trying to promote a service which is a huge big fat white elephant. It doesn’t help any of us, I wish they’d stop telling educated people like myself that it does. It’s doesn’t !!!!!!
The best sex worker warning systems are the ones that sex workers administer themselves, based on local knowledge passed from sex worker to sex worker by text message or through messages left in secret sections of local sex worker message boards that can only be accessed by sex workers. Such messages give full descriptions, telephone numbers, pictures and gaydar/squirt (as examples) user name profiles and names and addresses.
Ugly Mugs as it exists appears to be a feel good exercise for the UKNSWP to make them look like they’re pro-actively helping us, the people who effectively pay their wages. The dim reality however is that they’re not helping us at all. They’re just making noises to protect their own funding whilst in reality the scheme doesn’t help the ordinary home based sex worker like myself. The scheme, as many sex workers are now saying, is only helping its promoters to move on in their future careers and give them yet another excuse for an all expenses paid 2 day jaunt away to another county to talk about how they’re saving the lives of sex workers. How ??? The information is pointless.
If the many projects involved within the UKNSWP are to be truly useful to sex workers then they must first decide whose side they are really on, ours or the authorities. Too many projects have very cosy relationships with the police. They must instead become more pro active in demands for decriminalisation of our work and invite more sex workers to advise them and have less association with the police who are the enemy of sex workers. Grand, but pointless schemes such as the Nation Wide Ugly Mug Scheme is not useful unless it is changed so that it meets the real requirements of sex workers rather than the requirements of the authorities.
Please UKNSWP. feel free to contact me, my landline and mobile are on my website, I would be happy to tell yourselves, the police and your funding sponsors just how unhelpful the current scheme is. I am happy to meet you all face to face, as a real sex worker and tell you exactly what’s wrong with the scheme from an actual sex workers point of view.