Sex workers deserve support to keep them safe, Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC) for Wiltshire and Swindon, Angus Macpherson, said today.

Mr Macpherson was speaking to an invited audience including police officers, health and housing workers at Gablecross Police Station, Swindon.

The meeting heard presentations from two charities which received grants from the PCC’s Innovation Fund: National Ugly Mugs and Nelson Trust, which runs ISIS women’s centres in Swindon and Gloucester.

National Ugly Mugs, which aims to improve safety and access to justice for sex workers, was awarded £5,000, while the Nelson Trust received almost £35,000 to employ a sex work outreach worker at ISIS.

Sue Lee took up the post at ISIS in July.

Mr Macpherson told the audience that Ms Lee had won the trust of sex workers in Swindon so that they felt able to share their experiences and visit the ISIS centre to receive support and advice.

He said: “In my view, National Ugly Mugs and the ISIS Women’s Centre are two very important and very worthwhile projects that need our support.

“Some people may question why a Police and Crime Commissioner should be looking to provide support to sex workers. Some people may say there are other victims of crime who are more deserving of support.

“But I think differently – and I think you do too. The critics are not aware of the chaotic lifestyle that some sex workers lead. They do not understand their vulnerabilities or complex needs. They cannot, therefore, understand the level of support that these women require.

“Sex workers are far more likely to be victims of violence and other crimes than non sex workers.

“Sex workers are also far less likely to report incidents to the police. And this is where National Ugly Mugs, and you, come in; pulling together vital information about potentially dangerous clients, ultimately helping to save lives.

"A victim is a victim. All victims of crime, regardless of their background, are entitled to be as safe as any other resident of Swindon and Wiltshire.”