Summary of approach and activity in relation to prostitution in Glasgow

BACKGROUND Until May 1998 there was limited liaison between agencies, and contact tended to be as a result of joint working to access provision for a woman experiencing a particular crisis or following press concern. There had been six murders and one suspicious death of women involved in prostitution in Glasgow between 1991 and 1998. An Officer Working Group on Prostitution was established by Glasgow City Council in May 1998, comprising senior representatives and specialists from Strathclyde Police, Greater Glasgow Health Board, Glasgow City Council, Base 75 and the Women's Support Project. The remit of the Working Group was to explore relevant issues, audit current provision, identify gaps in service provision, identify best practice elsewhere and draw up an action plan for consideration by the Council and other partner agencies. During the life of the Officer Working Group both Greater Glasgow Health Board and Strathclyde Police established internal working groups in order to address policy and service issues in relation to prostitution. It was recognised by agencies in the city that there was a need for a coordinated and proactive approach. A small steering group was established in July 1998 to develop a Social Inclusion Partnership proposal in order to provide a strategic partnership to develop policy and practice required to address prostitution issues in Glasgow, to develop a co-ordinated and proactive response by partner agencies, and to establish an intervention team to assist women exiting prostitution and to inform mainstream policy and practice within the city. The Routes out of prostitution partnership Board, established in July 1999, comprises Glasgow City Council, Strathclyde Police, Greater Glasgow NHS Trust, Base 75 Support Service (for women involved in prostitution), Women's Support Project and Glasgow Drug Action Team. The SIP comprises 3 core elements 1. a city wide partnership, supported by a Partnership Manager, with a remit to develop a strategic approach to the issues of prostitution 2. a small, specialist intervention team to respond to women wishing to exit prostitution and to work with relevant agencies to make their mainstream services more accessible to women 3. a commitment from all partners to reviewing their current services, in the light of the city wide strategy and the experience of the intervention team, and to adjusting services to be more accessible and more responsive

particularly young women. According to the Scottish Area Deprivation Index (September 1998) all of the worst 1% postcode sectors and 65% of the worst 10% postcode sectors. Whatever these experiences may have been. It is widely acknowledged that approximately 95% are using illicit drugs. in Scotland are in Glasgow. drug use and poverty. mostly heroin. child care support.The Routes out SIP aims to prevent further harm and social exclusion by  preventing women. Crime Management figures and Base 75).K. becoming involved in prostitution  providing viable alternatives to women who wish to stop prostituting and supporting them to take up provision such as safe housing. The view of prostitution as ‘survival behaviour’ rather than ‘sexual behaviour’ is a powerful one when the experience of street prostitutes reveals high levels of sexual abuse. they are likely to be exacerbated by involvement in prostitution.400 women are involved in street prostitution in Glasgow (Strathclyde Police Intelligence. drug programmes. 65% of Glasgow’s postcode sectors are in the worst 20% in Scotland. poverty and drugs are at the root of street prostitution in Glasgow. and training and employment  changing public and agency perceptions of prostitution  involving women themselves in shaping and developing services STREET PROSTITUTION IN GLASGOW Strathclyde Police estimates that 1. Women are involved in prostitution because of their need to fund drug use and because they have no other viable means of earning the amount of money which they require. Some of the major issues around in women’s lives are: • • • • • • • • Poverty Drug/Alcohol use Involvement in the Criminal Justice system Homelessness/Housing problems Previous/Current experience of sexual /emotional abuse and violence Emotional instability/mental Health problems including attempted suicide Low educational Achievement/Unemployment Young People at Risk It is recognised that violence. Indicators show that women in Glasgow are likely to be amongst the most disadvantaged of any population in the U. homelessness. through legitimate pursuits. There is overwhelming evidence that the money which women make in prostitution primarily goes straight to those supplying drugs and that women themselves do not benefit apart from ensuring their own and their partner’s drug supply. experience of abuse. INDOOR PROSTITUTION .

poor health. in respect of poverty. The view in Glasgow is that the establishment of toleration zones and the licensing of brothels as saunas or massage parlours is an out of sight. poor housing. CONTEXT AND LINKS TO OTHER POLICIES AND STRATEGIES Unlike most areas of social policy. Over the last year or so a number of women from Eastern Europe and Thailand have been discovered in saunas raising the concern of relevant agencies that women are being trafficked to Glasgow. Scottish and UK level. which have been raised are intimidation by owner/manager. many . debt bonding. lack of control over sexual practices undertaken and other forms of abuse. out of mind approach. Glasgow City. with ‘regulatory’ duties placed on a number of public agencies because of the current legal situation. unemployment and low educational attainment. All partnership activities are therefore guided by the following key principles • Respect for women involved in prostitution • Concern for women’s safety and well being • Non-judgmental and confidential approach to women involved in prostitution • Recognition of the harm done to women and their families through prostitution The work in Glasgow is located within the context of existing strategies both at community. Concerns about women involved in saunas include:        involvement of young women link with other forms of organised crime mental health of women women’s experience of violence within owners/managers debt bonding of women to saunas presence of trafficked women general vulnerability of women involved saunas by clients and The Routes Out Intervention Team have had a number of self-referrals from women involved in saunas. Only a small percentage of these enterprises were in fact licensed and there were few means by which these operations were systematically investigated. Women involved in prostitution are disadvantaged at many levels. Whilst these establishments were licensed for ‘lawful activities’ it was widely understood that some involved prostitution. The Council and the Police have worked closely together over the last year to review the licensing process and there will be much closer scrutiny of future licence applications and of premises. which are in receipt of licences. Examples of issues. the issue of prostitution is highly contentious. It is the subject of strong views and value judgements.The Officer Working Group report dealt exclusively with street prostitution but during the life of the Working Group there was concern about the licensing of saunas and massage parlours by the Council under the Civic Government (Scotland) Act 1982.

Equality. ACTIVITY BY GLASGOW CITY COUNCIL A key element of the Routes Out partnership is that public agencies are committed to tackling the issues relating to prostitution and ensuring services respond to women who are so stigmatised and isolated. The various partners in Glasgow gave evidence to the Local Government Committee earlier this year whilst they were considering a Private Members Bill which would have enabled local authorities to consult on. by providing counselling. Many women will also have suffered the loss and stigma of having their children ‘looked after’ by others or adopted. establish and manage Tolerance Zones for street prostitution. We have also been looking at the experience of other legislative frameworks – the Netherlands. Base 75 was established by Social Work in 1989 to support women involved in prostitution. Current government policies are aimed at ending the ‘social exclusion’ of women like those involved in prostitution. Community safety. As with other social problems it is recognised that public agencies have a role to play in tackling the causes and the impact of prostitution. To date over 100 women have been in touch with the Intervention Team. The Council has established a Policy and Resources Working Group on prostitution and agreed an ambitious action plan. Victoria in Australia and Sweden as we recognise that there is a need to review the approach to prostitution generally rather than merely responding piecemeal to the many issues/problems arising. developed in the context of other policies and strategies (Social Inclusion. Agencies in Glasgow have vociferously opposed this Bill as a move towards regulating and normalising prostitution and minimising the harm done to women. Glasgow agencies involved in tackling this issue through the strategic partnership view prostitution as male violence and one form of commercial sexual exploitation. child care support and training and employment. This support and harm reduction provision has been significantly enhanced over the past couple of years and the city centre premises refurbished to provide a high quality environment for service users. which is monitored and reviewed on a 6 weekly basis. families and communities.with a history of sexual abuse and physical violence. Agencies in Glasgow have accepted that it is essential to have a clear view on prostitution. Few people are so disadvantaged and so marginalised. methadone prescribing. There’s a whole range of activity underway in Glasgow to address the problems of prostitution. . drug and alcohol dependency and mental health issues. health promotion and information. An Intervention Team was established as part of the Routes Out of Prostitution Social Inclusion Partnership in October 2000 to assist women to make the difficult break from prostitution by ensuring access to safe housing. Street prostitution is a significant social problem in Glasgow. therefore pushing them further into the margins of society as ‘failed’ parents. and Violence against women). which affects women. How prostitution is viewed is key to the approach adopted and all resulting activity. medical screening.

Women face being stereotyped. This programme now includes material on prostitution and is available to all secondary schools in Glasgow. A Time Out Centre funded by the Scottish Executive and managed by Glasgow Social Work is scheduled to open by the end of this year. Housing Services and the Intervention Team are supporting a small group of women to make the transition from benefits in to employment in order to overcome the benefits trap. A case study with a woman who has a previous record of soliciting offences is now built in to the Council’s compulsory recruitment and selection training. stigmatised and rejected for posts because of the perceived nature of offences. Social Work Services are actively addressing the provision of alternatives to involvement in the criminal justice system. The Council is also raising general awareness of employees about the nature of prostitution and promoting the view of it as survival rather than sexual behaviour.A Co-ordinator has just been appointed to integrate these two services in order to provide an enhanced and comprehensive service to women. This will provide a further alternative and make available intensive support including residential provision. the Council has committed resources and energy to promoting positive relationships between young people and addressing inequality between girls and boys in the Action against Abuse curricular material and the Zero Tolerance Respect project. As an Education authority. The Council is committed to changing the public perception of prostitution as acceptable and inevitable and to challenging the view that prostitution is about choice or work. The Council’s Personnel Services have included guidance to those involved in recruitment within the Council and have raised the issue with employers forums within the city. Ann Hamilton June 03 . A good practice guide adapted from the one published by the Franki Project was adapted for use in Scotland. Homelessness or threat of homelessness is a major issue for women and Housing Services are supporting a number of women to re-establish their lives in flats provided in different areas of the city. A major barrier for women is the requirement to declare previous convictions for soliciting. A leaflet aimed at staff and outlining Council policy and expectations of staff has been disseminated to all 34.000 staff working for the Council. thereby decreasing the number of women given custodial sentences.