TODAY |

Police team up with prostitutes to produce action-plan in case of sexual assault

In what’s thought to be a world first, police have teamed up with sex workers to create a guide for victims of sexual assault.

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The possible world first initiative comes after a worker was choked by a client in her Hutt Valley home. Source: 1 NEWS

About 40-pages long, the guide gives instructions for what to do immediately after an attack, including writing down what happened.

There’s also information about counselling, key phone numbers, and details about what’s involved in a forensic medical examination.

Dame Catherine Healy from NZ Prostitutes Collective has called it a significant step forward for sex workers.

"It's special because it's co-branded. It has our name and the New Zealand Police. You wouldn't see that in most parts of the world because often sex workers say it's the police who cause harm in their lives," she says.

The unusual collaboration came about after an assault case last year where a client chocked a sex worker, ignoring their agreed safe word and her pleas to stop.

Police Wellington District Commander Sam Hoyle says he hopes the pamphlet will help other victims feel empowered to come forward.

"It can be daunting, engaging in the justice process or with police, so having some sort of idea when you make that engagement makes it simpler for people," he says.

While police don’t keep statistics on how many sex workers are assaulted each year, they say anecdotally there’s been an increase in complaints.

"Everyone has the basic right to feel safe and be safe at work - it doesn't matter what you do. So I think this is a really important resource and I think it will be ground-breaking for the industry," says Commander Hoyle.