TV Review: Dispatches: The Hidden World Of Lap Dancing , Channel 4, Monday 6 October, 9pm
As you would expect in a documentary like this, there was a fair amount of flesh on show. All secretly filmed flesh, but flesh nonetheless. The show used a couple of undercover reporters - a guy called Peter and a wannabe lady dancer - to show
just what happens when someone goes into a lap dancing club. Guess what? What happens when you go into a lap dancing club is people try and get you to spend money and then take their clothes off if you pay them.
The questions that this episode of Dispatches was keen to answer were: Are the rules that govern these clubs being flouted? Does any transgression of these rules constitute a sexual service? And why does lap dancing get the same licensing status
as a café or a karaoke bar?
Any sane people knows the answers.
Undercover footage revealed that the all-important three-feet rule was constantly being flouted, and lady-parts were shoved relentlessly into our brave undercover reporter's poor naive face.
You walk into a club, and five minutes later two girls who you hardly know are completely naked in front of you. It's quite shocking.
Is it Peter? Is it REALLY shocking? No offence, but what were you expecting when you went into a place like this? A cup of tea and a Digestive? Get real son. This type of journalism is so lazy and makes me angry. The whole programme was just a
shock tactic to try and rile Middle England into shrieking at their television sets.
There was also a laughable bit when Peter was chatting to two dancers in a Blackpool club. They had offered him sex for £300. That's obviously prostitution and against the laws.
Jeez. It was like watching the televisual of equivalent of the Daily Mail.
Police find it difficult to close down lap dancing clubs because their customers are usually well-behaved, a vice squad chief has told MPs.
Chief Inspector Adrian Studd, of the Metropolitan Police, said local residents often wanted officers to take action on "moral" grounds.
But the police were restricted to crime and disorder laws.
He told the Commons culture committee such clubs were usually well-run and had a high staff ratio to customers.
Often people look for a moral decision, which is sometimes very difficult for police and local authorities to make, said Chief Inspector Studd, of the Met's clubs and vice unit.
He added: It is true to say there is no evidence they cause any crime and disorder, or very rarely, because they tend to be fairly well-run, they tend to have a fairly high staff ratio to customers, the people who tend to go there tend to be a
bit older, so they don't tend to drink so excessively and cause... problems outside.
The government has said it is considering a change in the law so that the clubs are categorised as "sex encounter" establishments - the same as sex shops. This would mean stricter rules about what is allowed to take place inside but
Chief Inspector Studd suggested that even this might not make it any easier for police to take action.
In the few local authority areas where lap dancing clubs were regulated in this way, the rules, on how close customers can come to the dancers, for example, had proved difficult to enforce.
With the best will in the world, when you get into the fine detail of it, as we have tried to do, on a couple of occasions, it's incredibly difficult to try and do that, added Chief Inspector Studd.
Owners of lap dancing clubs across Britain have joined forces to oppose attempts to make it more difficult for them to obtain licences.
Next week lap dancers are to hand in a petition to Prime Minister Gordon Brown urging him not to reclassify them as sex establishments.
They stress that while lap dancing is a sexy industry, sex is not for sale.
The Government look set to change the law to make it easier for local councils to refuse licences for clubs where customers pay to watch semi-naked women dancing.
But Kate Nicholls, secretary of the Lap Dancing Association (LDA) yesterday said: Britain's lap dancing clubs have been the subject of political and media debate in recent months.
The LDA shares concerns about unregulated or inadequately controlled establishments offering lap dancing. The LDA proposes a mandatory code of operating standards for the industry.
The LDA offers its own code of practice as a blueprint for this. A code of practice which would ensure any licensed premises offering adult entertainment must adhere to principles of professionalism, safety and transparency, would go some lengths
to addressing residual issues within the industry.
The LDA insist that local authorities do have the power to reject a licensing application for a lap-dancing club, and quote an example in her own Durham constituency: By way of example, in a recent case in Durham, a council ignored objections
from local residents and the Magistrates Court reversed their decision, showing how effective and influential local complaints can be. The reality is that planning and licensing restrictions give local authorities and local communities full
powers of consultation, complaint and control.
Lap dancers have taken part in a protest against government plans to reclassify them as sex workers.
Nutter campaigners against the clubs want them to be relabelled as sex encounter establishments and say councils should be given more control to ban them and to charge higher licence fees.
But the Lap Dancing Association, which represents a third of the industry's clubs, claims this would stigmatise performers. Its members say sexual activity does not take place in regulated clubs and their businesses were already controlled under
the Licensing Act 2003.
They said they are subject to numerous policies which regulated their activity and the reclassification was unnecessary.
On Tuesday, Lap dancers Lynsey Catt, Sian Wilshaw, Katherine Martinez, and Sharon Warneford presented a petition with nearly 3,000 signatures to Number 10 Downing Street, on behalf of the association.
Elaine Reed, a spokeswoman for the Spearmint Rhino Gentlemen's Clubs chain, said: The workers within our industry are absolutely horrified that the Government are trying to rebrand us as part of the sex industry. The feeling is that if
these changes are made the whole face of the industry will change, and not for the better
A Home Office spokesman said it was looking into the matter and intended to introduce changes to the the law at some point in the future.
Banks join benefit cheats, lap-dancing clubs and drinkers at the top of a list of targets for legislative action to be unveiled today.
Gordon Brown has made unfairness to men the theme of the second Queen's Speech of his premiership.
Companies will be free to discriminate in favour of women and black job candidates under a proposed Inequality Bill. The move allows employers to give preferential treatment as long as applicants are equally qualified. It is designed to boost the
proportion of female and ethnic staff, as well as thrusting more of them into senior posts.
Measures to toughen laws against benefit fraud, ban alcohol promotions and reclassify lap-dancing clubs as sex encounter establishments were trailed yesterday.
Plans by Jack Straw, the Justice Secretary, for a new Bill of Rights have been shelved.
The Prime Minister said in a document previewing the Queen's Speech yesterday. So as Government takes action, we expect people to play their part in return, with clear consequences for those who do not.
The speech will also announce a Crime Bill changing prostitution and drink laws. There will be proposals to criminalise men who pay for sex with trafficked women. The home secretary, Jacqui Smith, has made clear the bill would include a strict
liability offence of paying for sex with a trafficked or pimped woman which means that ignorance will be no defence for those accused. The Conservatives have already indicated they are likely to oppose this, making tackling prostitution one
of the more unlikely flashpoints in politics over the coming months. [Saying that I didn't notice the Paying for sex provision in any of the Home Office press releases accompanying the Queen's Speech.]
Pbr on the Melon Farmer's forum notes the absence of a Bill to prohibit non-photographic visual depictions of child sexual abuse ... perhaps the first bit of good news in government policy for quite a while now.
Off with their bollocks!...
Any man found enjoying a sex life will be
liable to the 'appropriate' summary penalty
Lap dancing clubs may be closed if they are located too near supposedly inappropriate sites such as schools, under transitional powers contained in the policing and crime bill published yesterday.
On lap dancing, the introduction of transitional powers to threaten existing lap dancing clubs goes further than originally billed. The man hating home secretary, Jacqui Smith, has already indicated that she expects the legislation to curb
the growth in the number of lap dancing clubs, which has doubled to 300 over the last four years.
But Coaker indicated that the transitional powers contained in the bill would give local authorities the power to refuse to renew the licences of existing clubs if there are local objections that they are sited inappropriately.
Despite the recent protests of the lap dancing industry that what goes on in their clubs is not sexually stimulating , the legislation proposes to categorise lap dancing clubs as sex encounter establishments and remove them from the
existing 2003 entertainment licensing regime, which classed them along with bars and pubs. A sex encounter venue is defined as one in which relevant entertainment is provided before a live audience for the financial gain of the organiser. An
audience can consist of only one person.
The effect will be to allow local authorities to take far more account of the views of nutters in granting new licences and to ban the opening of further clubs by declaring that a particular town or city centre has reached saturation point
Major music venues in central London face having their licences revoked if they continue staging burlesque events.
Camden council has warned that any establishment putting on burlesque will be treated as a strip club and have to pass repressive licensing procedures.
The move jeopardises the future of shows at some of the biggest venues in the capital, such as the Roundhouse, KoKo and the Proud Gallery.
Burlesque - which features partial nudity and striptease - is considered art by its advocates and distinct from the activities of lap-dancing clubs.
Performers such as Dita Von Teese have led a resurgence in burlesque which has attracted a celebrity following including the likes of George Clooney and Brad Pitt.
But Camden has deemed burlesque too risqué for normal pubs and clubs and has told venues they must reapply for adult entertainment licences as officials insist it should be classed as adult entertainment of a sexual nature.
The council said: Camden's licensing policy states that any premises in the borough that wishes to offer entertainment involving nudity, striptease or other entertainment of an adult nature will need approval from the licensing authority -
burlesque falls within this criteria.
30th April 2009, thanks to Alan
You cite a spokespillock from Camden saying: burlesque falls within this criteria
Shouldn't a sanctimonious twat who wants to use posh foreign words at least master grammar? THIS CRITERIA????? Singular: criterion; plural: criteria. This criterion or these criteria ! Gottit?
American burlesque artist Dita Von Teese has urged her fellow performers to defy a new law banning nightclubs from having stripper shows without a licence, saying it is what makes risqué dance routines exciting.
The artist is adamant that strippers should always strive to bend the rules, as it is a tradition in the saucy trade.
Itís not unusual for burlesque to be regulated because it always has been, and the stars of burlesque from the past had to deal with it, Contactmusic quoted her as saying.
The challenges of getting around the laws and the risque element were always a part of what made burlesque exciting. Perhaps these clubs will install the historic `red light, green light` that they had in burlesque clubs to tell the performers
whether the cops were in the house or not, she added.
The Treasury has denied firms receive tax breaks for corporate visits to lap-dancing clubs after 'Equalities' Minister Harriet Harman denounced it.
Harman petitioned the chancellor to end tax relief on such events which she argued exclude female employees. However, the Treasury said corporate entertainment of any kind was not deductable for tax or VAT purposes.
Firms can claim back VAT for trips which were genuinely related to developing staf", a spokesman said. He said HM Revenue and Customs would likely have to examine whether such a visit to a lap-dancing club had been wholly and
exclusively for the benefit of business , and would more likely be seen as a "gift" or perk.
Harman told a meeting of extreme feminists of the Fawcett Society on Thursday: I will take up the issue of tax relief, because there is a whole host of rules around tax relief. For example you can't get tax relief for childcare, which is
necessary for you to go to work. Why should you be able to get tax relief for a night out at a lap-dancing club where effectively you are discriminating against women employees in doing so?"
A Treasury spokesman said it appeared Ms Harman had been misinformed: Corporate entertainment of any kind is not deductible for corporate tax or VAT purposes. Knowingly claiming for corporate entertainment is tax fraud and those who try to
evade their legal obligations will face penalties in addition to paying back any evaded tax.
Roberta Blackman-Woods, the mean minded MP representing Durham, has welcomed the fact that the Policing and Crime Bill has passed its final parliamentary hurdle, with amendments between the two Houses of Parliament resolved.
The Bill contains provisions to restrict the licensing of lap dancing clubs, which Roberta campaigned for and persuaded the Government to include.
Blackman-Woods said : The new licensing regime will give local councils and local people far more of a say over the number and location of lap dance clubs in their area.
Despite Liberal Democrat amendments in the Lords supporting the lap dancing industry which would have substantially weakened the Bill, the Government held firm and made sure that local people would come first and that lap dance clubs would be
subject to strict but fair licensing arrangements. The Government has also announced that it is conducting a review of the whole issue of 'Temporary Event Notices' which is something I have been pressing for.
I will be urging Durham County Council to adopt the provisions and use the powers this Act will give it to as soon as possible.
The nightclub boss Peter Stringfellow has warned that he would appeal under human rights laws if he was forced to close his lapdancing clubs under new government regulations.
Hundreds of lap-dancing clubs will have to seek new licences under powers that are expected to force some premises to close. The new licensing regime will start on April 6, when clubs will be called sexual entertainment venues . They will
all have to apply for a fresh licence.
Local councils in England and Wales will be able to ban clubs from opening near schools or other buildings in quiet or busy neighbourhoods. The public will be given the right to oppose an application to open a club on the basis that the premises
are inappropriate .
Stringfellow and the Lap Dancing Association are threatening to go to the European Court of Human Rights if any club given specific permission to conduct lap dancing loses its licence. They claim that loss of the licence breaches human rights
because it deprives them of their possession.
Stringfellow said that the regulations had been brought forward because Jacqui Smith, the former Home Secretary, and Harriet Harman, the deputy leader of the Labour Party, were entranced by the radical feminist organisation known as the
Fawcett Society .
Lap dancing clubs could use the Human Rights Act to oppose legislation allowing councils greater freedom to turn down lap-dancing licence applications, venue owners say.
The Policing and Crime Act forces existing lap-dancing clubs to apply for new licences and allows councils to close venues for moralistic reasons.
Chris Knight, president of the Lap-Dancing Association (LDA), said clubs could take their appeals to the European Court of Justice. If local authorities don't give us new licences, they are effectively taking away our right to property and to
do business, as outlined in the Human Rights Act, and we will consider taking it as far as we have to in the courts, he said.
Local councils are likely to vigorously defend the legislation. Richard Kemp, vice-chairman of the Local Government Association (LGA), said: If they want a legal showdown, then we're going to test the depths of their pockets, because we're
certainly going to test ours.
Club owners argue that the legislation could infringe their right to property protection. The issue involves article 8 of the Human Rights Act which concerns the right to protection of private property, and activities pursuant to that
property, said licensing lawyer Richard Arnot. If an existing lap-dancing licence is your property, then you have the right to run a lap-dancing club, and the new legislation is arguably an infringement of that right.
Julian Skeens, head of licensing law at Jeffrey Green Russell and the LDA's solicitor, said appeal cases were likely to take a long time, and clubs could remain in business for some time.
The situation has angered nutter groups that pushed for the new law. Anna van Heeswijk, campaigns co-ordinator of Object, said: Human rights legislation exists to safeguard against discrimination and to promote principles of local democracy,
not to protect the rights of club owners to make a profit.
Strip clubs across Britain are facing closure as an increasing number of councils use new laws to ban them. Local authorities are at varying stages of implementing licensing changes to close clubs and businesses.
There are about 300 clubs in Britain and many opened after a relaxation of the licensing law in 2003. A subsequent 2009 law rebranded lap dancing, pole dancing, and strip clubs as sex entertainment venues gave councils new morality
Ten councils, given the power to impose repressive restrictions, have already opted for nil policies which will refuse applications for any new venues.
Among them is Tower Hamlets Council in East London. It is supposedly awaiting the result of a public consultation whilst keenly anticipating the closure of 11 clubs in the borough.
In Leicester three clubs were denied licences last week while in the City of London repressive licensing rules saw its only club decline to apply.
Enfield Council in North London, one of a number of local authorities to ban the clubs despite never having had any. It passed a motion last month, under the slogan no sex please, we're Enfield , which stated that it would not allow new
Elsewhere in London, Hackney, Haringey, and the City of London have all capped their quotas for new clubs at zero, though Hackney has made one area, Haggerston, an exception for existing clubs.
Islington, which has four clubs, has also voted in a nil policy on new venues. Richmond upon Thames has adopted a nil policy on new venues and its last remaining venue will hear its fate next month.
Cambridge City Council brought in new licensing laws in June and its only club declined to apply.
Newcastle City Council capped the number of clubs at five, and all are having licences considered. There are a further 15 occasional venues , many of which have not applied.
A lap-dancing club has appealed against the arbitrary refusal of a licence to allow it to continue trading. Angels, in Braunstone Gate, West End, Leicester, faces having to close or cease its shows by the end of March, unless it can overturn the
decision by Leicester City Council.
Leicester councillors said they were concerned the application was being made on behalf of a third party for someone they would not grant a licence to. Councillors also claimed the club was not in an 'appropriate' location given that a sports
centre is being built by De Montfort University, in nearby Dun's Lane.
The council's head of licensing, Mike Broster, said Angels had appealed on both grounds and the case was due to be heard by magistrates at a date yet to be set.
Well, many readers may have heard of research being carried out by Professor Phil Hubbard on Sexual Entertainment venues. The initial results are in, and although the full results are not due until March 2013, I have been given permission to
produce a synopsis of the report. I will say at the outset of this post that the majority of the report is not surprising and does no harm to the industry; there is one sticking point which I will discuss in more detail and explain why I feel
that it is not likely to affect the industry.
There are 241 licensed premises regularly offering lap dancing or striptease in England and Wales. Nearly half (43%) of those applying for a Sexual Entertainment Venue (SEV) license have received no formal objections at all. This doesn't really
come as much of a surprise: most people are not bothered about the venues and there tends to be only a small handful of complainants who may write in. Given that Portsmouth managed to obtain a massive response following a very vocal campaign by
pressure groups to get the clubs shut down, with 113 against and over 3000 for the venues, the fact that some clubs receive no objections at all should not surprise anyone.
A survey of residents in towns and cities with lap dance clubs suggests that around one in five were not even aware there was an SEV operating in their town or city! Fewer than one in ten identified an SEV as a particular source of local
nuisance, and in some locations this was considerably lower. Once again not a surprise, as we have seen previously from my report on crime that the belief that venues are an issue for police is a fallacy.