OUTSIDERS / TLC TRUST FOI SURVEY 2010
Physical and Emotional Wellbeing of Disabled Men and Women
Of 206 first tier local authorities surveyed in England, Scotland and Wales, 121 responded to the Outsiders/TLC Trusts FOI survey providing a 58.7% response rate.
1. Does your authority’s care strategy explicitly empower disabled men and women to make informed choices and be at liberty to pursue their sexual aspirations?
YES: 64 53%
NO: 57 47%
2. Is your authority’s adult social services department on record as supporting the rights of disabled people to develop and maintain social, personal and / or sexual relationships, based on the recognition of their human rights?
YES: 85 72%
NO: 36 28%
3. Does your authority condone the hiring of sex workers by disabled people within your care?
YES: 5 4%
NO: 95 78.5%
NEITHER: 21 17.5%
4. Does your authority condone the payment of sex workers by disabled clients using money which originated from your services?
YES: 4 3.3%
NO: 105 86.7%
NEITHER: 11 10%
5. Do you have a policy on the use of sex workers by disabled men and women supported by your services? If yes, please enclose.
YES: 4 3.3%
NO: 117 96.7%
Selection of local authority views and opinions from survey
Norfolk County Council
Norfolk County Council neither promotes nor condones. It has a full sexual health policy that includes use of sex workers. Their policy is that council employees cannot abet.
Milton Keynes Council
“We are aware at times that disabled people we support have sought the services of sex workers and should we be made aware they would have been advised appropriately by staff members. We do not condone illegal activities.”
“The authority would not condem or condone the hiring of sex workers by disabled people within our care. This is a personal decision and the authority would not attempt to influence such personal decisions in either direction. “
Not for people in our residential care homes. If someone who receives a domiciliary care package in their own home chooses to hire a sex worker then that it is their choice and we have no right to intervene or influence their decision ( unless there are safeguarding issues).
Portsmouth City Council
“Portsmouth City Council do not condone the hiring of sex workers by disabled people or sexual activity to take place within council-run care homes on the basis of having to address the human rights of all the residents. However, what an individual chooses to do outside the home is entirely their business. As a principle, we promote the rights of disabled people to have sexual activity and sexual relationships without having to resort to hired sex workers but appreciate that there are very real barriers to appropriate opportunities for disabled people in relation to this sensitive issue.”
London Borough of Sutton
The legal advice sought in developing the sexuality policy for staff working with vulnerable adults made it clear that: Staff cannot be involved in arranging for service users to visit/purchase the services of sex workers;
Soliciting and kerb-crawling are both against the law; Staff who do not act within the law are not insured and are liable for prosecution;
Regarding the question the draft policy states that: ‘The present position in British law is complicated: although strictly speaking it is not illegal to buy or sell sex, soliciting and kerb-crawling are both against the law. It is likely to be an offence to directly act to facilitate the buying of sex. This is to be distinguished from supporting vulnerable adults to have private social and sexual relationships. Therefore, where such situations arise [involving the purchasing of sex] they must be discussed fully with the relevant manager.
Nottinghamshire County Council
“People may choose to seek the services of a sex worker. However, staff must not get involved in making direct arrangements with a sex worker or agency, even if the service user’s disability makes it difficult for him or her to do it, because of the law relating to procurement for prostitution.”
Cambridgeshire County Council
“The personalisation agenda is at the heart of everything we do in adult social care, and we have adopted a very clear position that we want individuals to have the maximum degree of flexibility in meeting their eligible assessed needs. On that basis we do not rule out the use of social care funds in relation to any activity that contributes towards meeting an eligible assessed need, unless the activity is in itself unlawful.”
London Borough of Barnet
“We do not promote illegal activities or allow funds for illegal purposes. The procurement of sex workers on behalf of others would constitute an illegal act.”
City of Glasgow Council
“The Council’s prostitution policy recognises that prostitution is harmful, survival behaviour, resulting from a lack of real choices for women and the demand for prostitution by men. The council absolutely rejects the argument of prostitution as work, which merely requires legalising and regulating” (Glasgow City Council Policy on Prostitution, P1 ).
East Renfrewshire Council
“Would consider it as facilitating the commission of an offence against another.”
Somerset County Council
Somerset County Council Adult Social Care department has not published a generic statement about supporting the rights of disabled people to develop and maintain social, personal and/or sexual relationships. However all staff are required to work within a framework of supporting equality and diversity which will encompass such relationships.
Somerset County Council does not condone the hiring of sex workers by disabled people, but does recognise their freedom to make informed independent choices about their emotional and sexual needs and access those services if required.
Currently Somerset County Council would not knowingly agree to disabled service users using funding that originated from the Authority to pay sex workers. Service users are obliged under our Direct Payments Scheme to use those payments to buy support legally and within the requirement of Fair Access to Care Services eligibility criteria. With the advent of Personal Budgets service users will have greater flexibility and choice about the services they buy to achieve agreed outcomes. This may or may not influence Somerset County Council’s stance on matters of sexual behaviour.
The council has no policies or values that either condone or condemn the hiring of sex workers by disabled people. It is not a relevant factor. Providing care is a service to maximise people’s autonomy; its purpose is not to control people’s lives. Unlikely to approve.
Community Care interviewed Dr Tuppy Owens in an article by Vern Pitt, “Putting sex on the budget for the disabled” in their 12 August 2010 edition
Following the publication of Community Care, Dr Tuppy Owens was interviewed for a Front Page article in The Telegraph, and was mentioned in The Mail, and then did a series of interviews with many radio stations around the country. It was good publicity: Discussions on the Community Care website linked to the TLC Trust list of “50 Ways Sex Workers can Take Care of the Specific Sexual Needs of Disabled People”.
“Organisations such as The Outsiders and TLC (Tender Loving Care) do invaluable work to recognise the sexual needs of the disabled and do what they can to help – campaigning in a pretty forthright way.” Bel Mooney in the Daily Mail 18th August 2010
Here are some of the questions and answers:
Why did you carry out this FOI Survey to Local Authorities?
A young virgin with cerebral palsy had booked a female sex worker and, just before she was about to arrive, his local social services banned her from entering his home.
This led us to think that Local Authorities need to learn that they cannot treat disabled people like this: it is mental cruelty. We used the FOI to force them to think about their duties and try create positive policies on what we know are delicate, sensitive issues: disability and sexuality, choice and the hiring of sex workers.
What came out of the Survey?
1. That 47% of councils are breaking the law by refusing to empower disabled men and women to make informed choices and be at liberty to pursue their sexual aspirations :-
(a) the Disability Amendments Act states that public bodies should promote positive attitudes to disabled people
(b) banning disabled people from hiring sex workers is preventing them from doing what other people do, thus violating the Disability Discrimination Act
c) the WHO Guidelines on Human Rights state that disabled people have the right to a private life
2. Many Local Authorities seemed to think that prostitution is illegal so they are misinformed on the subject. They would only have to type the name of their local town and “escort” into google, to see that it’s very much alive and operating within the law.
Yet even the Care Quality Commission (CQC) say that staff would be seen as “procuring” if they made arrangements directly with a prostitute on behalf of a disabled client and this would be classed as illegal. So many are wrong about the law and themselves acting illegally. However, the Department of Health confirm that they have no objection to disabled people using their personal budgets to pay sex workers.
1.Most Local Authorities are oblivious to what is actually happening on the floor. OTs are now writing sexual services into the care packages of disabled clients and residential homes including them in their policies. Recently, one OT was urged on by the mother of a brain injured man who had got married and lost all his money to his new thieving wife. The sex worker is teaching the young man how to handle his love life better and restore his faith in women.
2. Local Authorities are also out of touch with the needs of their disabled residents, failing to understand how sex workers are the ideal professionals to help them learn and move forward. Many single disabled women say that they would love to hire someone who knows what they are doing, to explore the full erotic potential of their impaired bodies. Fewer men express this desire. They say they seek love and affection, but sexual frustration may then lead them to hire a sex worker. Many married people who become disabled and are subsequently divorced by their spouses, seek comfort and satisfaction from sex workers.