- Beacons archive
- Beacons round nine
- Reducing re-offending
- Case studies
- Equality and diversity in action
- Reducing prostitution re-offending
- Offending behaviour intervention
- Leicestershire Cares
- Jigsaw Project
- Bolton application case study
- Leicester joint application case study
- Tower Hamlets application case study
- Sunderland application case study
- Sunderland and the Corston Report
Reducing re-offending amongst women in street prostitution
The Safe Exit partnership works with a challenging client group of women in street prostitution to address their underlying needs and help reduce re-offending. This innovative, multi-agency approach in the London Borough of Tower Hamlets is recognised as a model of good practice by the Home Office.
- A multi-agency approach to helping women working in street prostitution can successfully help reduce re-offending.
- The underlying reasons keeping women in prostitution have to be understood to help remove them from the criminal justice system.
- Client priority issues include women’s health, substance misuse, housing, emotional needs and practical support.
Based at Toynbee Hall, Safe Exit was developed in association with the council, the Metropolitan Police and the Provider Row charity. Working together, the agencies wanted to provide a range of initiatives centred around assisting women working in prostitution. The underlying reasons keeping women in prostitution had to be understood so Safe Exit could help the women move away from the criminal justice system.
What was done
The leading edge initiative of the Safe Exit partnership is the Diversion Scheme. It addresses specific needs that keep women involved in prostitution, while also helping them to distance themselves from involvement with criminal activities.
After arrest, women complete a holistic assessment of their needs with a Diversion Scheme worker from Toynbee Hall. They discuss what their priority issues are. These can include their health, substance misuse, housing, emotional needs and practical support.
Safe Exit then refers the women into one of 12 regular referral agencies from the voluntary and statutory sectors or to others on an ad-hoc basis. On confirmation that the woman has completed the second appointment, the Diversion Scheme worker informs the prosecutor and the case is discontinued.
The Diversion Scheme has achieved some very good results while working with an extremely challenging client group. Out of 88 women, well over half completed the scheme and had their cases discontinued.
Additionally, Safe Exit recently commissioned ground breaking research into tackling demand for prostitution.
Client case studies
Two stories of women who benefited from the scheme help to illustrate its achievements. ‘Sally’ has been involved in prostitution for over 20 years. She sold sex to fund her and her partner’s £250 per day drug use habit. Sally knew about support services, but did not engage regularly with any until she participated in the Diversion Scheme.
Sally accessed a number of different services through Safe Exit. Sally has now had eight opportunities to take part in the Safe Exit Diversion Scheme. She has completed it successfully seven times. Sally recently said:
“I don’t like the Diversion Scheme…[it] made me go places I didn’t want to go but I am pleased because it has made me look at my life”.
Sally and her partner have now reduced their joint drug use to £10 per day and are both due to go on a methadone prescription.
‘Jane’ had a very high level of drug use. She had been homeless for eight months when she came to meet the Diversion Scheme worker. Jane was experiencing chronic crack psychosis but was not accessing any support. Whilst finding it very difficult to engage, Jane was clearly ready for change. She was successfully referred into a hostel and subsequently to the Drugs Intervention Programme. She is currently undertaking a detox programme.
Safe Exit also manages a forum of local organisations providing services to women working in prostitution. This aims to further improve co-ordination and identify areas where further work is needed.
telephone: 0207 364 2901