Annual Report 2004-05

SCOT-PEP's service provision to indoor and street based sex workers has remained at its lowest level ever, despite the increased vulnerability of street based sex workers and their experience of violence, abuse and exploitation.

Current local authorities’ initiatives have focused on a law enforcement approach to street prostitution, with the growing use of Anti-Social Behaviour Orders against street based sex workers. However, experience from England has shown that a law enforcement strategy, including ASBOs, does not eradicate street prostitution. In pursuing ASBOs against street based sex workers Edinburgh has failed to follow the good practice guidelines issued by the Home Office in relation to the implementation of ASBOs, which state that ASBOs should only be used alongside appropriate support packages. During this period support services that would have enabled street based sex workers to explore realistic alternatives and fast track access to drug treatment services have not been resourced, leaving street based sex workers even more isolated and excluded.

The on-going stigmatisation, scapegoating and marginalisation of sex workers in Edinburgh requires society, and SCOT-PEP in particular, to maintain its essential purpose of delivering practical and emotional support to one of the most vulnerable and socially excluded communities in Scotland - sex workers.

Throughout this difficult and volatile period our talented and dynamic staff and volunteer team have continued to adapt to a challenging working environment. We have succeeded, through partnership working, in maintaining both practical and emotional support to street and indoor based sex workers, within an increasingly hostile atmosphere, and with limited resources. We thank both the City of Edinburgh Council and NHS Lothian for their financial support which enabled us to get through this difficult year.

We remain committed to the unequivocal belief in the value, worth and potential of all human beings, including sex workers, and their equality of status and right to equitable treatment within a truly inclusive society.