Support Clair Finch – Support Sex Workers’ Right to Safety.

Claire Finch
Claire Finch

Ms Claire Finch is facing brothel keeping charges and a prison sentence because she prioritised safety by working with friends at her home.

She is appearing at – Luton Crown Court, Monday 26 April, 9.30

This prosecution is part of a moral crusade which is driving the sex industry underground and women into more danger. It is not in the public interest.

Ms Finch says: “My main thing is safety. It’s not safe to work on your own. With two of us you had back up, you had camaraderie.”

In order to ensure safety, Ms Finch worked in shifts with three other women. There was never a time when one woman was left on her own. Since she was raided Ms Finch has been forced to work alone.

On 19 November 2008, 20 uniformed police officers from Kempston Economic Crime Unit, kicked in Ms Finch’s front door and searched every room in the house including Ms Finch’s personal belongings, taking £700 from her purse that had been put aside to pay the mortgage. Her laptop computer, mobile phone, driving licence and passport were also taken. No receipt was given.

Since Proceeds of Crime legislation (reinforced by the Policing and Crime Act), raids and prosecutions against women working from premises have escalated. Police and prosecutors have a vested interest: the police keep 25% of any assets confiscated both at the time and from subsequent prosecutions (50% in some areas); the Crown Prosecution Service keeps another 25%; and the Inland Revenue the rest. Even if no one is charged, the money is rarely returned. Women who have worked for years to put money aside lose not only their livelihood but their home, car, life savings, jewellery, etc. This theft by law enforcement is the worst form of pimping.

The CPS is supposed to bear in mind public interest considerations when considering charges. Ms Finch’s situation contradicts every one of them.

  • Public interest considerations for brothel keeping charges are:
    To encourage prostitutes to find routes out of prostitution and to deter those who create the demand for it BUT A criminal conviction is the biggest obstacle to leaving prostitution.
  • To keep prostitutes off the street to prevent annoyance to members of the public BUT Ms Finch’s neighbours have no complaints and are coming to court to support her. Closing down premises drives women onto the street where it is ten times more dangerous to work.
  • To prevent people leading or forcing others into prostitution BUT All the women were working consensually and independently. There was no force, coercion, violence or trafficking.
  • To penalise those who organise prostitutes and make a living from their earnings BUT there was no profiteering. Everyone worked collectively and shared expenses.

Generally, the more serious the incident, the more likely a prosecution will be required While time and money are going into prosecuting Ms Finch, the investigation of rape and other violence continues to be downgraded. Public opinion opposes women being criminalised for working collectively and consensually.

The age of the prostitute and the position of those living off the earnings will be relevant All the women working with Ms Finch were over forty, mature women able “to make their own minds up. They’re not being hoodwinked.” Ms Finch has said that as a mother, working with inexperienced younger women “would not sit morally well with me.”

For working collectively in a safe non-exploitative way, Ms Finch faces losing her home and a prison sentence of up to seven years. The laws which allow such prosecutions must be abolished and prostitution must be decriminalised. Safety comes first.

[quote]29-04-2010

Dear Friends,

We wanted to let you know right away the fantastic news that Claire Finch was found not guilty of brothel keeping! The jury of 8 men and 4 women was out for just an hour and a half and the verdict was unanimous! There’s been lots of press interest, including The Guardian, The Times and Look East (local TV). We’ll send round a detailed report soon; in the meantime, this is the quick comment we did for the press, followed by the Press Release we issued before her case started.

Press comment:

Today in Luton Crown Court Claire Finch was found not guilty of a criminal charge of keeping a brothel! The jury, in line with public opinion, refused to criminalise Ms Finch for working together with friends from her own home for safety.

This malicious prosecution was motivated by a moral crusade and financial incentives for the police. Since Proceeds of Crime legislation was introduced, police are able to keep any money resulting from raids.

This not guilty verdict greatly strengthens the case for prostitution to be decriminalised so that women are able to work more safely together as in New Zealand.

ECP

Contact English Collective of Prostitutes 020 7482 2496 email: ecp@allwomencount.net

The Guardian Article – Police boost funds from assets taken in raids on prostitutes Sunday 25 April 2010

Paragraph 3:
The collective says the case of Claire Finch, who will appear at Luton crown court tomorrow to deny charges of brothel-keeping, is a typical example of how changes in attitudes to prostitution have resulted in more sex offenders being criminalised. Finch, a single mother, worked out of her home in shifts with three other women. The women, all over 40, shared expenses and are adamant it was a relationship of equals.

Editorial comment: Let us hope that Bedfordshire police now return all Ms Finch’s personal belongings, including the £700 taken from her purse that had been put aside to pay the mortgage. Her laptop computer, mobile phone, driving licence and passport were also taken.

The lack of a receipt being issued by Bedfordshire Police is rather serious. This is because it amounts to theft.

The Guardian Article – Police boost funds from assets taken in raids on prostitutes – has a mistake in the third paragraph where the author meant to say sex workers being criminalised. Instead the article said sex offenders being criminalised.

How do you like the Article?

Author: ECP

English Collective of Prostitutes

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *