A report says that sex workers in Westminster are at greater risk of violence because of a fall in demand and an increase in those selling sex.

The study by Westminster Council shows the recession has led sex workers to cut their prices, accept more clients and take greater risks. The police, the NHS, council workers and sex work projects contributed to the report. It recommends increased training and joint-agency work.

The report says: “Saturation of the market has had the impact of increased competition, meaning some sex workers are now selling sex for less money and providing a wider range of services.”

It’s not surprising that this report calls for the setting up of multi-agency models to tackle violence against sex workers, and other similar ideas, in the usual government-speak (“strategic politics agreed”, “proactive and reactive support”, “embed policies that result in” etc. etc.) without considering and/ or critiquing the patriarchal foundations of the sex trade. That would be too much to expect from government-led research, I know, but “embedding policies that result in…” is a fairly futile recommendation unless these issues are considered. Some first-hand accounts in the report allude to these problems (for example, “People think because you do what you do they can do what they want to you because you’re lower than the low in some people’s eyes” (Woman, street sex worker, Age 36)) but, unfortunately, they were used quite factually and descriptively in the report. Its crass discussion of where savings could be made is not very helpful either.

Report: Westminster City Council - Westminster Sex Worker Task Group, via BBC.