Finalist category: Community Impact Award
Community Impact Award, Winner, 2016
There are 80,000 sex workers in the UK who are disproportionately at risk of violent crime, and historically less likely to report acts of crime against them, leaving them vulnerable to serial offenders who believe they can commit heinous crimes without fear of arrest or prosecution.
SafetyNets is addressing the issue of violence against sex workers by utilising a vital business and safety tool – their mobile phone. The SafetyNets project has produced a mobile phone app that allows sex workers to alert one another, anonymously, in real time of dangerous perpetrators of crime.
These alerts provide descriptions of dangerous individuals that sex workers should avoid, which feeds into a body of intelligence that National Ugly Mugs mindfully passes to the police, allowing them to apprehend dangerous perpetrators who are a real danger to sex workers – and the public as a whole. The app also provides information and contact details of services in the local area that can offer guidance and support to sex workers.
SafetyNets understand that the success of longevity comes from empowering the community at the center of a project. As the third and public sector sees cuts to vital support services, the importance of peer-to-peer support becomes even more paramount. Within the first eight weeks of launch 40 alerts were sent through the app, providing over 100 users with a clear description of a perpetrator to avoid, most including a censored phone number and registration plate.