Prostitutes have complained about the humiliating treatment they receive at the hands of police, saying they have to endure hostile comments and are denied their rights when arrested. Action for Reach Out (Afro) has highlighted their concerns after conducting a survey of sex workers. It sent 73 questionnaires to prostitutes. It also conducted in-depth interviews with six respondents. Sixty of the women had had encounters with the police. Of these, 18 said one in every two police officers they encountered was rude. Their biggest complaints were of 'verbal assaults' and 'unfriendly looks'. Of the 10 women who had been arrested, six said they were not told the reason for their arrest. One said she was told 'you did not break any law, but Hong Kong does not welcome you'. When taken back to police stations, all of them said they were not told of their right to remain silent or their right to refuse to sign a caution statement. Some said the officers were furious and beat those women who were not co-operative. They claimed the officers who assaulted them covered their identification numbers, which meant they could not lodge a complaint. The survey also raised concerns about the condition of detention rooms for prostitutes. Last month there was a public outcry when pictures were taken of 40 mainland women suspected of prostitution being kept in a cramped cage in public view at Tsim Sha Tsui police station. The women also claimed they had been assaulted while in custody. Ah Yi, who was a prostitute for more than 10 years and now works for Afro, said she had been arrested at least 20 times. 'Once, a police officer slapped my face when I refused to sign a caution statement I didn't agree with.' Although she was angry, she had never considered lodging a complaint. In response to the claims, a police spokesman said any arrested prostitute unhappy at the way they had been treated could contact the force's Complaints and Internal Investigations Branch. If they did not know the name or number of the officer involved they would need to provide a time and the name of the station at which they were detained so that officers could follow up on the case. Kendy Yim, a legal rights officer for Afro, said: 'The condition of the detention rooms was bad. They were forced to eat, rest, sleep and use the toilet facilities in the same small detention room. The detained sex workers were not treated humanely, their privacy was hurt. The police humiliated the women.'