The UK city where sex work is banned, but hasn’t stopped

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Prostitute and client near Hessle Road, HullImage copyright
Hull News & Pictures

Hull is the UK’s only city to have banned sex workers from its red light district, effectively making prostitution illegal. The council says the policy is working, but Millie, who once worked on the streets herself, says it increases the danger for the women involved.

Sex work “slithered” into Millie’s life when she was in her twenties. “It happens quite slowly at first and then all of a sudden you’re in this mad cyclone and you can’t find your feet, you get lost,” she says.

The cocky bravado of the women in Hull’s red light district made it seem like an easy way of funding her drug addiction. But now, with more than five years on the streets behind her, she knows all that banter is just body armour against the violence and vileness that comes with the job.

“Oh, you must love sex,” punters would say with a smirk. “No. I love heroin,” was Millie’s sharp retort. “There is no love of sex, working on the streets – it’s always a last resort.”

Millie’s drug addiction began as a teenager, when she would steal her mum’s sleeping pills and Valium. When her mum’s mental illness was at its height, she would whisper menacing things through Millie’s bedroom door at night: “There’s evil inside you, I can see it. You are a demon, spawned from demon seed.” The pills helped to block it all out. From there she graduated to ecstasy, opioids – and eventually, heroin.

“Then you get trapped in addiction because you end up needing the drugs to get through it, to block out the things you’ve had to do,” says Millie.

She remembers how women would steel themselves for a night on Hessle Road – Hull’s red light district – telling themselves that they wouldn’t do anything for less than £60. But their resolve would weaken as soon as withdrawal symptoms set in. “When you’re rattling you’ll get in that car for less than £20 – you’d do it for a fiver, simple as that,” says Millie.

When we meet, Millie has just finished reading a book about the Victorian serial killer, Jack the Ripper, and can relate to his victims. “Back then we were referred to as ‘unfortunates’,” she says. “We have different names now but still the same social problems: the poverty, the addiction, the violence.”

Fish being unloaded on the quayside at Hull (1932)Image copyright
Getty Images

In Hull, the fishing industry and the sex trade have always been intertwined, she says, the poorest women in the fishing community always at risk of sliding into prostitution. Millie knows lots of sex workers today whose fathers were trawlermen in the 1970s, when the industry went into steep decline.

“Generation after generation of women from these fishing families are working the streets – it is a terrifying prospect.”

But while Hull has celebrated its fishing heritage with statues and murals as UK City of Culture this year, it takes a hard line on the sex trade. Three years ago – not long after its status as 2017’s city of culture had been confirmed – it became the only local authority in the UK to effectively make prostitution illegal.

Mural of fisherman, Hessle RoadImage copyright
Chris Pepper

Image caption

An end-of-terrace mural on Hessle Road, created for Hull’s year as UK City of Culture

It did this by obtaining powers from the county court to issue injunctions under Section 222 of the Local Government Act 1972, to people found loitering, soliciting or having sex in the Hessle Road area. If they continue their anti-social behaviour they have broken the injunction, and can be arrested, prosecuted, and even jailed.

The policy currently affects more than 100 women. Last year the Lighthouse Project, a charity, had contact with 113 women working on the streets of Hull, and another 15 who had stopped – either temporarily or permanently. Women who break free may be back in a few years, charity workers say.

Millie, who has been out of the sex trade and clean from drugs for about 10 years, says Section 222 has forced the sex workers out of sight, making their lives more dangerous. To dodge police, they work increasingly in back streets, or on isolated industrial estates – areas that are poorly lit and away from surveillance cameras.

“Even without Section 222 to contend with, it’s lonely, it’s frightening, it’s degrading – and it’s a secretive life,” Millie says.

“I can understand that Hull City Council wants to clean up the streets, but I think the best way to do that is not an Asbo, or to victimise victims, I think it is to provide support and proper treatment and look at the social issues – the homelessness, the domestic violence, the exploitation, the drug addiction, the mental health problems.”

Millie is one of 11 women who worked with the Lighthouse Project to produce An Untold Story, a book documenting the reality of being a sex worker in Hull. In the three-and-a-half years it took to prepare, five women working on the streets were murdered. Another 11, including two of the book’s contributors, died from other causes – pneumonia, drug overdoses or other conditions resulting from years of sex work, and drug or alcohol abuse.

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Millie in An Untold Story…

Sorry. It’s only one word containing five letters. It’s not enough, it will never be enough.

I miss being a mum. It’s down to me that I’m not any more. I hold my hands up to all the mistakes and bad decisions I’ve made, but it’s not enough. It will never be enough.

It’s not just birthdays, but the silly little things, like making up daft songs about what we were having for tea and singing them all the way home from the shops. Or writing teeny tiny letters from the tooth fairy in minuscule writing, thanking them for an incredible tooth and to keep up the good work. That their tooth would be used to help build the fairy kingdom.

I miss being a Mum. My memories of my three children are tainted by guilt, filled with shame, saddened by regret.

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Since the policy came into force, 29 women have been arrested and served with court orders and four have been prosecuted. Two women have been sentenced to jail; one to 14 days, the other to one month, though her sentence was suspended for a year. Five women are currently waiting for a court date. “Sending them to prison for two weeks won’t do anything and it isn’t even enough time to provide rehabilitation,” argues Millie, who served short sentences in prison herself, and would go back on the streets the day she was released.

A couple of times a month, Millie goes out at night on a Lighthouse Project bus. Women who board it are given condoms, hot drinks and information on dangerous individuals – passed on by Ugly Mugs, a charity that collects reports of incidents from sex workers and fields them out to warn others.

“They come to unburden their day – they’re telling me their problems and they’re the same ones I faced,” says Millie. She commiserates with them on painful anniversaries – the day their children were taken away by social services, or the last time they spoke to their parents.

But since Section 222 came into force, women have been more afraid to use outreach services, says Emma Crick, who led the Untold Stories Project.

Hessle RoadImage copyright
Hull News & Pictures

Image caption

During the day, Hessle Road is a busy shopping street

“Many times when I have been working in evening outreach, police are around and appear to be waiting for the women to get on or off the vehicle so they can target them,” she says.

As a result of the strong police presence, Hull’s sex workers have also become more dispersed, making it harder to offer them support services, Crick says.

The director of Ugly Mugs, Georgina Perry, says the charity has received just two incident reports for Hull in 2016/17 – well below average for a city of its size. In Nottingham, a similarly-sized city, 35 incidents were reported during the same period, she says.

“What we see in every authority where there is a heavy-handed enforcement approach is that the number of reports [to Ugly Mugs] goes down and the number of women then willing to take it to the police goes down too, because they are frightened about criminalisation,” she says.

Perry brands Hull council’s approach to sex workers a “quick and dirty way of superficially dealing with a problem that is about poverty and deprivation”.

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Millie in An Untold Story…

You’re usually “sorting somebody out” [buying their drugs]. I was sorting out my boyfriend, and a couple of his mates. There’s always spongers who just soak up everything that they can get hold of, drug-wise.

A lot of fellas, they say, “I’m looking after our lass,” and, “I’m looking after my girl.” No they’re not! They don’t want to miss out, so they need to be there when the punter drops her off. If not, they might not get anything.

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By contrast, Graham Paddock, anti-social behaviour team leader at Hull City Council, says the ban has “been a success so far” and was renewed in December 2016 for another three years.

“We had reports of sexual intercourse in gardens and against fences, so we had to do something to protect the community,” he says.

“We are never going to stamp out prostitution in Hull entirely, but at the end of the day we have to send a message out that that kind of behaviour will not be tolerated.”

Waterhouse Lane in HullImage copyright
Alamy

Image caption

Doing sex work is known in Hull as “going down the lane”, after the former red light district, Waterhouse Lane

Residents reported an improvement after the policy based on Section 222 was introduced, he says.

But is this a case of “victimising victims”, as Millie puts it?

“I can see that argument, but I guess our number one responsibility is the local community being affected,” Paddock replies.

He adds that police tactics have changed over time, so that it isn’t just the women who are targeted.

“When it first came into place in 2014 we were concentrating a lot on the girls themselves, but it was always intended for anyone – whether it be pimps, partners, boyfriends – so I’ve noticed there’s been a change recently where more punters are actually being served with the orders now.”

No men have yet been prosecuted, however.

Slum housing on the edge of the red light district has been demolished in recent years to make way for new homesImage copyright
Alamy

Image caption

Slum housing on the edge of the red light district has been demolished in recent years, to make way for modern homes

A multi-agency group made up of representatives from the police, the council and charities – including the Lighthouse Project – is now meeting to discuss the best way of using Section 222, while also supporting the women involved in sex work. But Millie is frustrated that no-one with experience of sex work has been invited to take part. She thinks she could have made a useful contribution.

She would have argued that if the goal is to protect the local community, then the women and most of their clients are also members of the local community. And she would have underlined that they can be helped to find a way out of prostitution.

“The saying ‘once a junkie always junkie’ isn’t true – you can break free from addiction,” she says. It wasn’t easy – she relapsed many times – but after moving into a hostel and getting the right counselling, she started to claw back control of her life.

She remembers the first time she decided not to use her money to buy heroin – she bought a necklace instead. It was a silver cross with her mum’s birthstone in it – amethyst.

“I remember the pride I felt – I wasn’t used to feeling pride, it was an emotion I’d lost long ago.”

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Millie in An Untold Story…

Kate’s been my ever-patient mentor for all the years I’ve volunteered for Lighthouse…

We continue our walk up the main road of the red light district in Hull, towards the next working girl, stood on the next street corner. The Lighthouse car pulls up in front of us again, playing a crazy game of leap frog with us, keeping Kate and I within sight.

Another working girl opens the side door as we arrive at the car. She’s in a hurry so she just needs a hot drink and a goody bag, then she’s on her way.

For the next two hours we stop and talk to every working girl we see. Most we know. Some are new.

When the night shift is over and I’m snuggled up under the duvet with my dog curled up behind my knees, my husband breathing rhythmically sleeping beside me, a man who’s never once thrown my past in my face, I once again realise how fortunate I am.

Millie’s name has been changed

See also: My work as a prostitute led me to oppose decriminalisation

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‘Rap City’ Host Big Tigger Explains Why He Kneeled at BET Hip Hop Awards

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‘Rap City’ Host Big Tigger

Here’s Why I Took a Knee …

At BET Hip Hop Awards

10/11/2017 2:52 PM PDT

EXCLUSIVE

‘Rap City’ host Big Tigger says he decided to drop to one knee at the BET Hip Hop Awards to seize the moment, and show support for Colin Kaepernick.

We spoke to Tigger about taking a knee Tuesday night as he entered the event. He was also wearing a black Kaepernick jersey — but he told us the move wasn’t a planned thing — more like he just happened upon the “right place at the right time.”

BT says this isn’t just about sports now, instead it’s a national issue now — and he wanted to step into the fray … just like Jay-Z and President Trump have.

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Kyrie Irving Is Happy To Be In A ‘Real’ Sports City, Not Cleveland

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Kyrie Irving is very happy to be in Boston. After requesting a trade from the Cavaliers earlier this summer, the All-Star point guard landed in about as good a position as he could have hoped when he asked Cleveland to deal him.

The Celtics are a playoff team with two auxiliary stars around him in Gordon Hayward and Al Horford, which means he doesn’t have to start over when it comes to competing. Boston earned the East’s top seed a year ago, and with their new trio on board, the Celtics have their eyes on the Finals and toppling LeBron James and the Cavs for the first time in nearly a decade.

Beyond the on court reasoning for Kyrie being happy, he also seems to genuinely enjoy being in the city of Boston rather than Cleveland. With the Celtics set to open their season back in Cleveland, one would think Irving would probably avoid saying anything inflammatory about the city where he started career, but in his excitement about being in Boston, he just can’t help but compare the two.

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About 4,000 civilians remain in IS-held Syrian city of Raqqa

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A spokesman for the U.S.-led coalition battling the Islamic State group says an estimated 4,000 civilians are still trapped in the Syrian city of Raqqa, once the extremists’ de facto capital, and that coalition allies are working out ways to evacuate them.

Col. Ryan Dillon says the Raqqa Civil Council, a local administration of Arab and Kurdish officials, is leading the discussions. It’s not clear with whom the council is speaking inside Raqqa.

Dillon said on Wednesday that the coalition wouldn’t accept a negotiated surrender of up to 400 militants believed holed up in the last part of the city that remains in IS hands.

Dillon says up to 15 militants have surrendered in the past three weeks in Raqqa. The battle for the city is in its final stages.

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Uber driver stabbed in New York City road rage case, police say

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Police in New York City are searching for a suspect who reportedly stabbed an Uber driver during a fit of road rage Thursday afternoon.

The victim, who had an Uber sticker in the windshield of his gray SUV, got into an altercation with the suspect around 3:45 p.m. in Midtown Manhattan.

The NYPD says the attacker got out of his vehicle and stabbed the Uber driver in his left arm before driving off toward Sixth Avenue.

The victim appeared to be in stable condition on the scene.

The suspect drove a gray GMC Acadia with New York Taxi and Limousine Commission plates, police said.

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Texas city loses water, 44 dead, but thousands of Harvey survivors rescued

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PORT ARTHUR, Texas (Reuters) – A flood-hit southeast Texas city lost its drinking water supply and police and soldiers rescued thousands still stranded on Thursday after powerful storm Harvey killed 44 people and displaced more than a million on the Gulf Coast.

Some 779,000 Texans have been told to leave their homes and another 980,000 fled voluntarily amid dangers of new flooding from swollen rivers and reservoirs, according to Department of Homeland Security acting secretary Elaine Duke.

The city of Beaumont, about 80 miles (130 km) east of Houston, had its water supplies cut off and was threatened by a rising river that forced the evacuation of its hospital and residents in neighbouring Orange County.

There were explosions at a chemical plant about 25 miles (40 km) east of Houston after it was engulfed by floodwater.

The loss of water and health risks from flooding were among hazards emerging in the aftermath of Harvey, which roared ashore late last Friday as the most powerful hurricane to hit Texas in half a century. It has since been downgraded to a tropical depression as it heads inland, leaving devastation across more than 300 miles (480 km) in the southeast corner of the state.Jessica Richard, 24, said she waited out the storm in her home in Port Arthur, about 85 miles (135 km) east of Houston, until Thursday morning when water on her street rose to waist-high. She was picked up by a passing truck.

Richard said her nephew had been trapped with several family members overnight in a flooded apartment. “He said there were snakes in the water and spiders crawling up the walls. But they got out,” she said.

At least 44 people were dead or feared dead in six counties including and around Houston, officials said. Another 19 remained missing.

HOUSE-BY-HOUSE SEARCH

In the U.S. energy hub of Houston, firefighters conducted a house-by-house search to rescue stranded survivors and recover bodies as some residents began to return to their homes to assess the damage.

Seventy percent of Harris County, which encompasses Houston, was covered with 18 inches (45 cm) or more of water, county officials said.

In Beaumont, doctors and nurses evacuated some 190 people from a hospital that halted operations after the storm knocked out water service in the city of almost 120,000 people.

Orange County ordered remaining residents to evacuate from low-lying areas after a forecast that the Neches River would crest on Friday, threatening homes.

U.S. Vice President Mike Pence visited Texas on Thursday, touring the coastal city of Rockport, where Harvey slammed ashore six days ago.

“The American people are with you. We are here today, we will be here tomorrow and we will be here every day until this city and this state and this region rebuild bigger and better than ever before,” Pence said outside a damaged church.

A group of people carry supplies through flood waters caused by Tropical Storm Harvey in Port Arthur, Texas, U.S. August 31, 2017. REUTERS/Adrees Latif

Gasoline futures soared more than 13 percent on Thursday as almost a quarter of U.S. refining capacity had been knocked offline, raising fears of fuel shortages.

About 189,000 homes and businesses remained without power and nearly 100,000 homes suffered flood damage, utilities and state officials said.

COSTLY DISASTER

Moody’s Analytics estimated the economic cost from Harvey for southeastern Texas at $51 billion to $75 billion, ranking it among the costliest storms in American history.

The event has drawn comparisons with Hurricane Katrina, which killed more than 1,800 people in New Orleans in 2005. Then-President George W. Bush’s administration was criticized for its haphazard initial response to that storm, and Donald Trump’s administration was taking care to be seen as responding quickly to its first major natural disaster.

Trump was to return to the region on Saturday.

Early Thursday, explosions could be heard at a chemical plant in Crosby, Texas, owned by Arkema SA (AKE.PA). Refrigeration systems failed in a truck storing volatile chemicals, which ignited as they warmed, sending smoke plumes 40-feet (12-meters) into the air, according to company and public safety officials.

Public safety officials insisted there was no risk to the public outside a 1.5-mile (2.4-km) safety perimeter, but more fires were expected at the facility, underscoring worries of possible damage at other petrochemical plants and oil refineries that dot the region.

As signs of normal life returned to Houston, the nation’s fourth most populous city, there were also concerns about health risks from bacteria and pollutants in floodwater.

The Houston Astros baseball team, forced to play away from the city due to the floods, will return and play at its home field on Saturday. It has invited shelter residents to attend its double header against the New York Mets, Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner said on his Twitter feed.

Residents began a massive cleanup, dragging water-logged furniture to the curb, hunting for supplies and repair estimates. The city began limited trash pickup and bus services. Hospitals that had struggled to stay open earlier in the week were phasing in clinical operations.

“We are blessed that the rain has stopped,” said Brenda Stardig of the Houston City Council.

Many in Houston were shocked at what they found when they returned home.

Anita Williams, 52, was lined up at a shelter at Houston’s George R. Brown Convention Center to register for aid from the Federal Emergency Management Agency. Williams went back to her home on Wednesday to survey the damage to her one-story house.

“It’s not my house anymore,” Williams said. “My deep freezer was in my living room.”

Additional reporting by Richard Valdmanis, Marianna Parraga, Gary McWilliams, Ernest Scheyder, Erwin Seba, Ruthy Munoz, Peter Henderson and Andy Sullivan in Houston, Ben Gruber in Crosby, Texas, Emily Flitter in Orange, Texas, David Gaffen and Christine Prentice in New York, Susan Heavey in Washington, Jon Herskovitz in Austin, Texas, and Brendan O’Brien in Milwaukee; Writing by Dan Whitcomb; Editing by Jonathan Oatis and Andrew Hay

Our Standards:The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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Alexis Sanchez: Manchester City accept defeat in Arsenal striker pursuit

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Sanchez made his first appearance of the season in Arsenal’s 4-0 defeat by Liverpool on Sunday

Manchester City’s bid to sign Arsenal forward Alexis Sanchez looks to be over after the Gunners failed to secure a replacement.

It is understood a conditional agreement was reached in principle between City and Arsenal for Sanchez, 28, to move to Etihad Stadium.

The fee was £55m, plus £5m add-ons, but it depended on Arsenal replacing him.

Their target was Monaco winger Thomas Lemar, who is thought to have decided against a move.

A fee in the region of £90m had reportedly been agreed between the Gunners and Monaco for the 21-year-old France international.

City are currently not prepared to resurrect a deal for Sanchez by offering a player in exchange or more money for a straight cash deal.

Barring a remarkable last-minute turn of events Sanchez, who wanted to join City to be reunited with his former Barcelona manager Pep Guardiola, will stay at Arsenal.

He is into the final year of his contract and is likely to leave on a free transfer next summer.

One player who is leaving the Emirates is striker Lucas Perez, signed last summer for £17.1m, who is returning to former club Deportivo La Coruna on loan after scoring seven goals in 21 games for the Gunners.

Analysis

Stoke midfielder Charlie Adam speaking to BBC Radio 5 live:

Arsenal need Alexis Sanchez more than they need the £60 million.

Without him, they’ve no chance of getting in the Champions League this season. He won’t sulk.

Come 1 September, he’ll knuckle down and give his all for the team.

Former Aston Villa, Chelsea and Republic of Ireland midfielder Andy Townsend:

Arsenal are in a mess. I would let have let Sanchez go.

His body language in Sunday’s 4-0 defeat by Liverpool was really poor.

He’s had enough and his mind is already elsewhere. I don’t think he’ll be able to pick it up quite as quick.

Arsenal Supporters’ Trust board member Akhil Vyas:

I hope he regains his focus and gives it his all, which he tends to when on a pitch, for the next season at least.

It has been a very underwhelming end to the window but, at the very worst, if we were not going to bring anyone in, we had to keep Alexis.

Sanchez’s FA Cup final screamer

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Footage shows a fireball during the Perseid meteor shower | Mashable



Around the globe, people looked up to the night sky to catch what is considered to be the best meteor shower of the year. The Perseid meteor shower hit its peak …

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Electric pods are the city transportation of the future

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What is the future of city transportation going to be like in, say, 2030? Who knows? But smart, the maker of small electric city cars, thinks it’s going to include a lot of small, electric city cars.

“We are pacemakers for urban mobility,” said Dr. Annette Winkler, CEO of smart, just before they pulled the cover off the concept you see here.

The concept is called the smart vision EQ fortwo. It looks about like the current smart fortwo except for a pair of big, round doors and the missing steering wheel and pedals. Those differences are there because the vision EQ is autonomous. A theoretical future city dweller would summon something like this smart vision EQ fortwo using a smartphone, the car would come running to the summoner like a happy puppy, with the words, “Hi Fred!” (or whomever) on the front, and Fred would climb in and be whisked to his destination. Or, the user could indicate he or she was willing to share the ride and the system software would find a compatible co-rider.

When not carrying passengers, the car would find a place to recharge its batteries through wireless inductive charging. It could even drive itself to a service center when maintenance is called for, though maintenance on an electric car is minimal.



smart vision EQ city photo

This is the future smart envisions for you.


The smart vision EQ fortwo is built around four assumptions about what will be needed for a city car in the future, and it incorporates all four of them in its design:

1. It will be shared. Unlike contemporary cars, which are owned by one person and are used only by him or her (and only for a small portion of the day), the vision EQ would be used by multiple riders each day. It would be similar to the operating model of car2go, which already has a presence in several cities around the world.

2. The transportation future will also be autonomous, something required for this car sharing model to work. As smart says, “… users do not have to look for the next available car — it will find them.”

3. The cars will all be connected, as they would have to be to work with so many different passengers.

4. And, to keep the air in the cities they serve clean, vision EQs would have to be electric. These cars would have rechargeable 30 kWh lithium-ion batteries onboard, with access to inductive recharging stations.

In the future, driving in the city won’t be like it is today. In fact, it won’t even be driving, it’ll be riding. But how much enjoyable driving do you do in city centers anyway? It’s not like you’re carving apexes during rush hour as you commute to and from downtown wherever. For much of the time spent behind the wheel, you’re just sitting there. You might as well be sitting in a car that drives you and frees you up to do something else.

smart says that with enough cars like this they could cut the number of vehicles in cities in half. That’s something we can all get behind. 













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