New laws to clamp down on sex trade

Home Secretary Jacqui Smith has announced a range of measures to tighten up the law on prostitution.

Speaking at the Labour Party’s annual conference, Miss Smith introduced a three-point plan focusing largely on the demand side of the sex trade.

Firstly, the law relating to kerb-crawling and soliciting for prostitutes on the street will be made stricter, so that anyone caught committing either offence can be prosecuted first time.

Councils and police are to be given stronger powers to close down brothels where pimping or trafficking is involved.

And the law will be changed so that police can prosecute anyone paying for sex with women controlled by a pimp or victims of human trafficking, without police having to gather evidence for a rape conviction.

The full details of the plans have not yet been published, and campaigners will be keen to ensure that the law relating to the selling of sex is not watered down.

Many will be disappointed that the reform does not appear to include an outright ban on the purchase of sex, despite ministerial visits earlier this year to view the working of a similar ban in Sweden.

Miss Smith said: “We will do more to tackle the blight of street prostitution.

“At the moment only persistent kerb-crawling is outlawed. In my book, once around the block is once too many – and so we’ll make kerb-crawling punishable as a first offence.”

Deputy Leader of the Labour Party Harriet Harman added: “We must protect women from being victims of human trafficking – the modern slave trade. The trade only exists because men buy sex, so to protect women we must stop men buying sex from the victims of human trafficking.”

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