Government delays plans to change law on prostitution

An expected overhaul of the law relating to prostitution has been dropped from the Criminal Justice and Immigration Bill in order to speed the Bill’s progress through Parliament.

Proposed changes had included deleting the term ‘common prostitute’ from the law and introducing the option of new rehabilitation measures for prostitutes persistently caught loitering or soliciting.

Both clauses have now been withdrawn, as has an amendment to outlaw paying for sex which had been tabled in the Lords.

The removal of prostitution from the Bill is a time-saving measure to hurry a ban on prison officers’ strikes onto the statute book.

A no-strike agreement with the Prison Officers’ Association ends on 8 May, so the Government is keen to ensure that the ban becomes law before that date.

However, the Government has indicated that the issue of prostitution will be addressed at a later date.

Women’s Minister Harriet Harman told the House of Commons on 28 February that the Government was “…engaging in what will be a six-month review into how we deal with the demand side of prostitution.

“It will not be a bad thing to look at how we deal with prostitution of a piece when we have considered the review of how we tackle the demand side of human trafficking.”

An amendment proposing to allow so-called ‘mini-brothels’ where two prostitutes could operate lawfully has not yet been withdrawn.