Operation Beech began in the Middlesbrough area in January, working alongside local charity A Way Out.
Those who sell sex are often targets of violent crime, which can include physical and sexual attacks including rape. Evidence suggests that offenders deliberately target those who sell sex because they believe they will not report the crime to police.
Officers are now pulling together the information gathered from the operation along with partner agencies to understand the issues and look at ways to manage those issues in the longer term.
A sex worker liaison officer has now been recruited with the aim of implementing the longer- term practices needed and to continue the good work already carried out under the initiative across the Force area.
Over the course of the operation, officers have seen successes including:
Over 70 sex buyers or those associated with offending against sex workers have been identified and dealt with accordingly. This includes cautions, arrests and charges.
44 sex workers have been engaged with, and officers have seen women now begin to flag down officers in the street to share their concerns.
When residents in the area have reported matters to police, officers have visited these residents to offer reassurance.
Patterns of behaviour and locations have been identified as part of intelligence gathering, allowing police to manage risk more effectively.
Calls relating to sex work have decreased in the Middlesbrough area.
Control room staff are now providing a more enhanced service to sex workers including better assessment of risk and vulnerability, and frontline staff have been given briefings on awareness and a proactive approach.
Detective Inspector Dan Cook said: “We have seen some great success with Operation Beech and now that we have enough information from the initiative with regards to engaging with sex workers, we are able to come up with a long-term plan to help with the challenges that are faced in order to safeguard vulnerable victims, reduce related violent crimes and help make the relevant areas safer for our communities.
“Sex workers are vulnerable and often suffer from addiction, homelessness, and face many challenges where sex work becomes their only option for financial support. They are often targeted by dangerous individuals.
“We want to continue to ensure that anyone who is a victim of a sexual offence or violence can feel comfortable and confident enough to come forward and report it; and to know that they will be fully supported throughout and any allegations thoroughly investigated. Every sex worker is entitled to safety, support and justice when they have been a victim of crime.”
Anyone who has been a victim of a sexual offence or a violent crime is urged to report it to Cleveland Police on 101.