House in Peterborough bought to help get sex workers off the streets

A house in Peterborough has been bought as part of a project to help get sex workers off the city’s streets.

Thursday, 4th March 2021, 2:08 pm
A project in Peterborough is aiming to get sex workers off the streets. Archive image: CARL DE SOUZA/AFP

Members of the Crime and Disorder Scrutiny Committee were told at their online meeting this week, the property was purchased with funding secured by a partnership of Cambridgeshire Police, Peterborough Women’s Resources Centre and the City Council.

The new Area Commander for Peterborough and Fenland at Cambridgeshire Constabulary, Superintendent Kate Anderson, told members the project is part of a three-strand-plan: Protecting Victims, Disrupting Offenders and Supporting Communities.

Superintendent Anderson said: “As part of this project we have a Tactical Board who look at ways of securing funding from Ministry of Housing Communities and Local Government (MHCLG), and a charitable foundation.

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“The purchase of the house in Peterborough is just part of a number of successful funding bids that we’ve received in recent weeks.

“The street-sex-working project has a housing scheme working alongside it, called ‘Empowering Women Everywhere’.

“We identified a property that was suitable, and with the funding received we’ve been able to purchase the house with the support of these partnerships.

“Recruitment is currently underway through the Women’s Resources Centre for a project coordinator and five support workers.

“We also continue to work closely with the Police Public Protection Unit, who manage sex offenders in the community, and this leads to the prosecution of persons responsible for exploiting others.

“Just this month we’ve had one male who was in breach of a Sexual Harm Prevention Order, he’s been charged and remanded because of concerns around links he has to the women we’ve been supporting.

“Alongside this, we continue to look at ways of enforcing those individuals who exploit women through curb-crawling.

“We’ve identified a potential provider for our Out of Court Disposals process – this will see individuals fined when they curb-crawl, and £100 from each of those fines will go back directly into funding local women’s services in the community.

“We’re also investing in a training programme that will hopefully help educate people around their behaviour and the harm that it’s causing.

“The work being doing in Peterborough hasn’t gone unnoticed; only recently we were asked to showcase our projects at a number of national events and really positively one of our outreach workers got a BEM in the New Year’s Honours List in relation to work around sex workers.

“Both locally and nationally, through the Violent and Sex Offender Register (VISOR) and other projects, we are making a difference for the women and the communities in which they work, who we known desperately want change to what’s going on in their area so that there’s less curb-crawling going on.

“The street sex workers must be shown that it’s not their only option, and also through understanding what’s working for Policing in the UK.”

Cllr Amjad Iqbal asked: “The street-sex-working project has a housing scheme working alongside it, called ‘Empowering Women Everywhere’ – is this a long-term project?”

Superintendent Anderson replied: “We have two pots of money secured for the project at the moment.

“The first will provide twelve months’ worth of funding for the five Support Workers in the house, and the second will provide fifteen months funding for a Project Support Worker and an Outreach Worker.

“We will need therefore to do more work to obtain funding for the long-term security of the project.

“We’ve been very lucky that Cross Keys Homes have supported us with the capital funding for the house itself, so we now know that’s self-sustaining once we’ve got residents within the property.

“However, over the next twelve months we are going to be seeking additional central/national funding to support the project going forward.”

Members acknowledged the work being done and gave it their ongoing support.

More information can be obtained from Cambridge Women’s Resource Centre: https://cwrc.org.uk