A new social media campaign is aiming to raise awareness of a project which helps to protect sex workers called the National Ugly Mugs (NUM) scheme.
People working in the sex industry are often targeted by dangerous individuals but are frequently reluctant to report these incidents to the police.
When an individual registers with NUM, an alert can be sent out to them and others in the area to warn them of a possible threat, and potentially save a life.
Lincolnshire’s Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC), Marc Jones, who is working with the county council on the project, said: “This project is crucial in helping to keep everyone in our communities safe by assisting the authorities in locating and arresting sexual predators.
“We hope by launching an online campaign, we can engage and communicate directly with sex workers and encourage them to sign up to this vital service and share information helping to keep others safe from harm.”
Claire, a sex worker from Skegness, gave this advice to others working in the industry: “I’ve been using NUM for the past few months and it has really helped me out of a dodgy situation.
“It sends alerts to my phone about potential problem clients, meaning I am able to avoid them and keep myself safe. I’d say to others working in the sex industry, please just sign up – it takes two minutes to do, and it could save your life.”
NUM is formally supported by National Police Chiefs Council and the Home Office, and has resulted in the apprehension of a number of serial sex offenders.
Hayley Child, Sexual Violence and Abuse (prevention) Lead at Lincolnshire County Council, said: “NUMs is particularly important and innovative in making sure people working in the sex industry are kept safe and supported and encouraged to report crime. This group of people are historically hard to reach, and this project reflects the key priorities that all organisations involved in reducing sexual violence in Lincolnshire, have agreed.”
In 2014, NUM won a number of awards including the Guardian Charity Award and the Third Sector Award for “Small Charity, Big Achiever.” In 2015, they were “Highly Commended Charity of the Year” in the Charity Times Awards.