London has 'most crimes against sex workers', report finds

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Media captionAt least two rapes or violent attacks are reported each week in London via the Ugly Mugs project

London has the highest number of reported crimes against sex workers in the UK, a campaign group has found.

Ugly Mugs, which collects and circulates data on potentially dangerous clients, said there were 970 reported crimes against sex workers in the UK, over the past two years.

London has highest number of reported incidents in the UK, with 224.

A Metropolitan Police spokesman said sex workers were "often exploited due to their vulnerability".

'Utmost sensitivity'

Ugly Mugs, which has been running since July 2012, said about 20% of the 970 reported crimes were rapes.

The group, which is part of the UK Network of Sex Work Projects, said in London, 42 of the reported incidents were sexual assault, which included rape allegations and 82 involved violence.

Other crimes included theft, robbery and fraud.

The North West region was the second highest with 184 reports, followed by the West Midlands at 168.

Alex Feis-Bryce, manager of the National Ugly Mugs scheme, said: "Sex workers have the right to police protection and this sends the message that, as far as the Met Police is concerned, there is no grade of victim and crimes against sex workers will be taken seriously."

In a statement, the Met Police said: "We are aware that rape and sexual assault is under-reported - not least by those working in the sex industry, who represent a group often exploited by offenders due to their vulnerability and in the belief they will be reluctant to report offences to police.

"The MPS treats all allegations of rape and sexual assault with the utmost sensitivity" and all reports were "fully investigated", it added.

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