A debate is needed about changing the prostitution laws, the Association of Chief Police Officers (Acpo) has said.
Deputy Chief Constable Simon Byrne, Acpo's lead on prostitution and sexual exploitation, has also called for the funding of a
national database of men suspected of attacking sex workers.
He was speaking after the murders of three women who worked as prostitutes in Bradford, West Yorkshire. Byrne said any murder [was] one too many and if we can do something simple and
effective to stop that then we should do so . Perhaps the law does need changing - some of it is frankly complicated
In many cities across the UK, details are already gathered about so-called ugly mugs - men who have been violent
or threatening towards sex workers. Someone can rape in Liverpool and the sex workers in Manchester would not necessarily be aware, said Shelly Stoops, of support service the Armistead Street Project in Liverpool: We need something to
co-ordinate and link up all the information... and something that the police can look at on a national level and see patterns and trends of offending. Preventing attacks. Late at night ugly mugs leaflets are handed out in Liverpool by outreach
workers, along with condoms and advice.
Byrne said: There is another dimension - there is a significant cost to investigating a murder. When times are tough and you have all the austerity and revolution going on in the public service... there's
some hard [edged] maths to be done here. If you can invest a small amount of money in rolling the scheme out, you can prevent an awful lot of crime .
The Home Office says it has been carrying out a feasibility study into the possibility of a
national scheme and it will be considering its recommendations. It plans to publish guidance in the spring on how best to police and deal with problems linked to prostitution.
But some people involved in sex work want more fundamental changes to
the legislation surrounding prostitution, such as designated red-light zones or decriminalised brothels. It means the people that are there to protect you, can also arrest you, said Rosie Campbell of the UK Network of Sex Work Projects, so [sex
workers] can be reluctant to go the police.
Britain's Prostitutes - Life on the Edge will be shown over the New Year's weekend on the BBC News Channel.
The UK's anti-trafficking policy is undermining the rights of sex workers, leaving them vulnerable to arrest and conviction or, in the case of migrant workers, detainment and deportation. The UK is also failing to meet its human rights obligations to
trafficked persons, particularly men, transgender people and people trafficked into non-sexual labour, says a report by sex worker rights network, x:talk.
Human Rights, Sex Work and the Challenge of Trafficking [pdf] describes how the UK's anti-trafficking policy has
created new crimes around the selling of consensual sexual services between adults and how its implementation has resulted in an increase in arrests and convictions for sex workers and others in the sex industry. The combination of anti-trafficking
raids, brothel closures and increased surveillance of the indoor sex industry has caused serious disruptions to sex workers' working environments and made the industry less safe, especially for migrant sex workers. The report describes the UK
anti-trafficking measures as causing an unprecedented incursion into the lives and work of people employed in the indoor sex industry .
It finds that many undocumented migrants are unable or unwilling to exercise their rights as workers, or
access basic services, such as healthcare. Provisions in the Policing and Crime Act 2009, introduced to combat trafficking, have resulted in a situation where migrant sex workers do not seek redress when they are wronged or abused and are more vulnerable
to exploitation and rights abuses.
Ava Caradonna, sex worker and spokeswoman for x:talk, said:
We have always suspected that attempts to address human trafficking have been co-opted by people with another
agenda—the eradication of the sex industry. What the x:talk report has highlighted is that, rather than assisting and supporting trafficked people, anti-trafficking policies have been most effective at putting the safety, health and even the lives
of sex workers at risk. They have also helped to make sex workers a soft target for the Border Agency.
x:talk has recently filed an Freedom of Information request for details of the Poppy Project, to coincide with the report's
release. The request aims to find out how the Poppy Project have spent more than £9m granted by the government and what support it is provided to trafficked women – information that is not currently publicly available.
This my shop Mrs Palm in Truro on the busy shopping day of Saturday 27th November and along comes the catholic
church to block my window and tell people untrue rumours that myself and my shop were involved in the recent child sex abuse case in Cornwall that is all over the news.
The Christian Institute will not give up their attempt to see me shut down,
and now I have the Catholic Church harassing on a nearly daily basis.
The nun pictured came into the shop the day before to tell me I was disgusting and so was the shop.
The week before I had a cross drawn on the window and photos taken of
my window display of which I was told by the church member taking the shots that my window dummies were prostitutes. The photos they took were then on the Cornwall council's desk that same morning, with a complaint.
I put a sign in my window
saying Mrs Palm licensed sex shop opening soon and was told to take it out as it offended the church, and then told by the licensing committee that I would not be allowed to display my website address on my shop fascia because of the church!
I had one hundred letters of objections, all of which were unfounded moralising and completely bigoted.
I have been told by letter that I am obviously a ex porn star druggie that has been abused by black men....
So not a day goes by
without a little drama..
Out of every negative there comes a positive though, and since I seem to hit the local paper every week its created a lot of support form strangers, it's bringing in the customers through all the furore, curiosity and it's
getting me lots of free publicity.
A christian nutter group is challenging the licensing of Truro's first licensed sex shop which opened its doors for the first time last weekend.
Campaigners won a case to secure a judicial review of Cornwall Council's decision to grant the
And the council has said it will not defend the legal challenge, which could see Mrs Palm Ltd shut if the case goes ahead.
City councillor Armorel Carlyon and the Christian Institute launched action in the High Court, claiming
procedures were not followed correctly at the original hearing when the licence was granted in August.
The issue is believed to centre on two key elements of the hearing. The first was the decision to disregard many of the letters of objection on
the grounds that they focused on the morality of the shop.
The second was that the committee did not take into sufficient account the location of the sex shop, which is next door to school outfitters Trevails in Little Castle Street.
council spokesman said: The council, having considered the matter carefully, has decided not to contest the judicial review. How the interested party, Mrs Palm Limited, decides to proceed in these circumstances is a matter for them.
Calvert, deputy director of the Christian Institute who led its campaign against the shop's licence, said: The decision by the council not to contest the case reflects the strength of our case.
The move by Cornwall Council not to defend the
licensing committee's decision surprised Mrs Palm's directors. Owner Braxton Reynolds said: As a licensee I would have expected Cornwall Council to have defended the position of their licensee.
The case will now go before a judge who will
decide if there are enough grounds to grant the review. If given approval then a judicial review will probably be heard late next year.
In the meantime, however, a licensing committee hearing has allowed the premises to extend its hours for late
night Christmas shopping. It will now be allowed to open until 9.30pm every Wednesday – three hours later than normal under the terms of the original licence. Councillors also agreed it could include the street number and drop the word Ltd from its sign but drew the line at replacing it with a website address.
Bunny girls will return to London next year with the opening of a new Playboy Club, Hugh Hefner has announced.
The venue was once the height of decadence when it opened in the swinging Sixties attracting stars such as Sir Michael Caine, George
Best and Jack Nicholson.
But after closing its doors almost 30 years ago, the club is to stage a comeback at a new location in London's Mayfair.
The new Playboy Club will include a restaurant, cocktail bar and casino, spread over two
floors. The return has been trailed for at least a decade but now Playboy and its partner London Clubs International say they will open the venue in the first half of 2011.
London's original Playboy Club at 45 Park Lane opened in 1966 and became a
noted hangout for celebrities and the wealthy. It closed in 1981 after gaming licences were revoked.
In recent years a motley crew of government agencies, police forces, human rights activists, feminists, religious groups and celebrities have turned human trafficking into one of the biggest issues of our time.
The anti-trafficking lobby claims
that millions of people around the world – mostly women and children – are being smuggled across borders by means of threat and coercion and are forced into prostitution, bonded labour and domestic servitude. The UK media – both broadsheet and tabloid –
has slavishly accepted this narrative, filling column inches with salacious reports of foreigners trapped in cellars, used for tawdry sex and held under the threat of murder and even voodoo.
But this modern-day slavery scare is underpinned, not by
hard evidence, but by speculation and prejudice. It is a moral panic which masks a fear of foreigners, of fluid borders and of women who exercise their agency by moving across the world in the pursuit of a better life. Despite the alarmist reports, time
and again the thousands of victims and perpetrators that the anti-trafficking lobby claims are out there fail to materialise.
Newspapers which publish sex adverts could face prosecution by the Metropolitan Police.
As part of an investigation into sex trafficking, the Croydon Guardian reports that a senior police officer saying editors who continue to run adverts for
brothels could be arrested.
Vice squad detective inspector Kevin Hyland told the paper: It is an offence to advertise for prostitution. If newspapers do run adverts there is a possibility of prosecution. The legislation we
are thinking of using is aiding and abetting offences of controlling prostitution for gain, offences of trafficking under the Sexual Offences Act 2003 and possibly money laundering.
A Croydon Guardian article claims sex adverts were
estimated to be worth more than £44m for the regional press in 2006.
A spokeswoman for the Metropolitan Police Service said its Human Exploitation and Organised Crime Command was a specialist unit tackling trafficking and prostitution and a number
of people had been jailed in recent months. She said: In many of these investigations, the organised criminal networks have sought to advertise through local newspapers or advertising journals.
is important that everyone plays their part in trying to reduce the opportunity of criminal networks to continue their illegal activities and their exploitation of vulnerable people through advertising sexual services. The MPS is working with the media
to tackle this.
Recently Hackney council invited residents to have their say about a nil policy being proposed for adult entertainment in Hackney. In essence it means no more licenses will be granted nor will existing ones be renewed, when they come up for
According to Cllr Chris Kennedy: The Licensing Committee is proposing a 'nil' policy on licensed sex establishments as we do not believe they fit with the character of our town centres and neighbourhoods.
which began last month will end December 13th and will ask the Council to adopt the revised policy on January 26th.
Currently Hackney has a total of 5 adult establishments, all located on the southwestern tip of the borough bordering on the City
of London financial centre.
Four of them offer strip tease and lap dancing, totally nude. They are long established and famed: The White Horse, The Rainbow Sports Bar both on Shoreditch High Street, Browns and Ye Olde Axe on Hackney Road.
The fifth venue is a discreet adult store – Expectations on Great Eastern Street that caters more to the gay community.
To the best of my knowledge none of them have ran afoul of vice laws such as prostitution, which would usually guarantee
criminal prosecution, revocation of license and closure. So why is Hackney Council proposing a nil policy for adult entertainment venues?
Pauline Briscoe owner of The White Horse on Shoreditch High Street says: If a nil policy is
introduced, we will have to let go of our staff, who depend on us for a living. That will be more people claiming benefit. Our establishment has never been a problem.
Briscoe, who closes her club, The White Horse, at midnight says her flat
above the White Horse is next to a bus stop and she is awoken at 4 am when clubbers are pouring out of the night clubs. She said the noise and chaos can be quite unbearable.
Regardless of who frequents lap dancing clubs, there are women who
depend on the money they earn. One of them who spoke to Hackney Hive is a 21 year old Uni student said: This is worrying for me as I find I can fit dancing around my education easier than other part time work. I also don't have to work as many hours
as I would have to in a more tradition job, to make the money I do.
It is not clear that Hackney Council's nil policy is in line with changing trends in public opinion. A survey carried out as part of the 27 September Sunday Morning Live discussion on BBC1 showed overwhelming public support for
accepting prostitution, with 71% of the British public in favour and only 29% against.
This echoes a government funded Ipsos MORI poll in June 2008: 59% agreed that prostitution is a perfectly reasonable choice that women should be free to
In the Sunday Morning Live debate, Catherine Stephens of the International Union of Sex Workers (IUSW) called for policy that solves problems based on evidence and reality, rather than on ideology, dramatic individual cases and
stereotypes. She argued that stigmatisation of sex work plays a large part in violence and trafficking.
According to the IUSW the clients are not the problem; they cite evidence showing that the majority of robbery, abuse and physical or sexual
violence experienced by sex workers comes from those who do not pay for sex. Many assailants express hatred of sex workers and appear to feel their actions are legitimated by the social attitudes of abhorrence for commercial sex.
It's time to start treating women with respect and equality, regardless of their sexual behaviour. It's time to give people in the sex industry the same human rights as other citizens, so we can work together for safety, and call the police without fear
of arrest. It's time to decriminalise prostitution.
A recent Welsh Assembly report concluded that it is highly likely that the Ryder Cup will result in a surge in sex trafficking to Wales. As evidence, it pointed to how Greece licensed new brothels ahead of the 2004 Athens Olympics to meet demand
and said that mega-brothels were built to satisfy sex-seeking football players and fans during Germany's 2006 World Cup.
The media has repeated the assembly's claims without question, predicting that the Ryder Cup will fuel a boom in
women and children forced here from abroad to work in the Welsh sex industry .
But there is one problem with all this: the claims around the Athens Games and the World Cup in Germany in 2006 are based on myths that refuse to die.