The laws on prostitution and lap-dancing clubs are to be tightened up but the Government has stopped short of a universal ban on buying sex.
Home Secretary Jacqui Smith says anyone caught paying for sex with a woman ‘controlled for another person’s gain’ will face hefty fines and a criminal record.
The measure aims to tackle the exploitation of women by pimps and human traffickers by cutting demand.
However, in spite of earlier suggestions that the Government would ban the purchase of sex outright, in line with the Swedish system, it will still be legal for men to pay for sex with women who are acting independently.
In a U-turn on former policy, the Government will also apply more stringent tests before issuing licences to lap-dancing clubs.
It relaxed licensing legislation in 2003, leading to a doubling in the number of lap-dancing clubs operating in the UK.
Katherine Rake of the Fawcett Society, a campaign group that has lobbied for the clampdown, said: “People have suddenly woken up to the fact that our city centres have changed very dramatically and that has an impact on us all, it being part of the culture of sexualisation.”
Miss Smith said: “It’s not a complete ban on lapdancing clubs, but it’s saying you don’t operate in a vacuum, you have an impact on the community around you.
“I would hope it would make it harder for them to open, certainly in residential areas, and I would suspect that some of them will be closed when the licences come up for renewal.”