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 Government set to ban small ads
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31st January
2010
  

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Labour's next attack on an enjoyable life

Vera BairdYou will have seen the advertisements in the back of some newspapers: New young models. Open 24 hours. Come and relax and have a professional massage.

If Vera Baird, the UK Solicitor General has her way such ads will soon be a thing of the past. Baird, along with Fiona Mactaggart, Harriet Harman and other feminists in Westminster, is looking to the Republic of Ireland for inspiration on how to legislate against third-party profiteering from the sex industry namely by newspapers. Ireland's legislation, in place since 1994, reads:

A person who publishes or causes to be published or distributes or causes to be distributed an advertisement which advertises a brothel or the services of a prostitute in the State or any premises or service in the State in terms, circumstances or manner which gives rise to the reasonable inference that the premises is a brothel or that the service is one of prostitution shall be guilty of an offence.

The legislation includes those advertising prostitution services in other ways, for example displaying notices or posters, circulating leaflets or cards (such as those in telephone boxes) or on radio, television, computer, telephone, fax or photography.

At Baird's instigation the Crown Prosecution Service here in the UK has taken a close look at the legislation and decided that it could be useful in prosecuting those directly involved in profiting from this abusive industry and could also reduce the numbers of men paying for sex.

If police can confirm that an ad being published or distributed is for a brothel the publisher is sent a warning of possible arrest and prosecution if the ad runs again. The penalty is a fine of up to £10,000.

 

14th February
2010
  

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Vera Baird and Harriet Hatemen line up their next assault on sex work

Vera BairdAdvertisements for massage parlours and escort agencies are to be banned in the next government assault on the sex industry. 

Ministers plan to disrupt the sex industry by banning newspaper advertisements for prostitutes and brothels in a new law put forward in Labour's election manifesto. Failure to comply with the law could carry a £10,000 fine.

The clampdown is being led by Vera Baird, the solicitor-general, and Harriet Harman, the equality minister.

They are concerned that a request to remove the adverts has had only partial success. Although The Newspaper Society succeeded in persuading some newspaper groups to stop carrying them, ministers are concerned that many others have failed to do so.

The Crown Prosecution Service has already studied a similar law in Ireland and concluded that it would work in the UK.

The new law would also inform publishers which kind of ads will be banned by defining, for example, the difference between a massage parlour which is actually a brothel and spas offering therapeutic massages.

Sex phone lines, carried in many tabloid newspapers, would not be caught by the law unless they are a front for arranging prostitution.

It would also make it a criminal offence to print or distribute telephone-box cards advertising prostitutes. Under the current law, it is an offence only to be caught in the act of posting such a card.

Baird said: It is now appropriate to move against people who make money from advertising prostitutes. The Newspaper Society tightened its guidance on taking such ads but there is still a market that we now have to look to legislation to disrupt.

 

17th October
2010
  

Update: Small ads, Small Minds and Big Offences...

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Police consider action against newspaper escort ads for: aiding and abetting controlling prostitution for gain

Metropiltan Police badge 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.

It 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.

 

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