SEX workers are being encouraged to report crimes against them in a major new campaign in North Yorkshire.

Such workers are at an increased risk of a range of crimes including sexual and physical violence, harassment, stalking and coercion.

They are often targeted by dangerous individuals who can pose a huge risk to the public as a whole. However, they are frequently reluctant to report these incidents to police or seek support.

The campaign aims to inform sex workers about what support is available for them, provide essential safety tips, and encourage them to report any incidents if they are a victim of crime.

Unlike many other large towns and cities in the UK there are not any obvious “red light” districts within North Yorkshire. However, online sex work is the largest sector of the sex industry in the UK and there is online sex work in the region.

Every day, local, migrant and transient sex workers work across the county via the internet from residential addresses, hotel rooms and holiday apartments.

The North Yorkshire campaign offers guidance for staying safe when working and urges sex workers to contact 999 if they, or someone they know, is in danger.

Detective Superintendent Allan Harder, of North Yorkshire Police’s Safeguarding Unit, said: “Whatever job you do it is your right to feel safe and protected and we will not tolerate any crimes against those who work in the sex industry.

“If you are the victim of a crime, your report will be investigated and you will be treated with dignity and respect with support from support agencies if that is required.

“Whether you have been harassed, received malicious communications, been the victim of stalking, robbery, physical or sexual violence, we take all crimes seriously and we will respect your right to confidentiality."

He added: “Sex workers can be reluctant to make formal complaints to the police and so records do not reflect how prevalent crimes against sex workers are.

“This shows the amount of work that we need to do to build that trust and those relationships.

“We would encourage those who work in the sex industry, in particular those who do not wish to speak to the police, to sign up to National Ugly Mugs (NUM), a free service that improves the safety of workers and brings workers together to share information with each other about potential dangers.

“If a report is made to NUM, this information is used to warn other sex workers and can potentially save their lives.

“If you have any information that you wish to provide so as to protect others contact North Yorkshire Police, National Ugly Mugs or Crimestoppers knowing that we will respect your rights to confidentially about the information being provided.