elrond

An appeal from the ECP

27 posts in this topic

Dear Friends,

We enclose below a letter from Legal Action for Women (LAW) asking for the prosecution against Ms W to be dropped. She is facing charges of assisting in the management of a brothel yet she was only an occasional visitor at the premises and her primary role was to ensure the safety of other women working there. She is due to appear at Highbury Magistrates Court on 6 May.

Despite Legal Action for Women?s efforts to get the prosecution dropped, the Reviewing Officer for the CPS based at Holborn Police Station has replied saying that the case has been reviewed and that ?there is sufficient evidence to proceed? and that it is in the public interest to do so?.

We urge you to write immediately to Kier Starmer the DPP expressing your concerns, copying the letter to Nazir Afzal Chief Prosecutor for London and to the Reviewing Officer (addresses below).

We enclose below a model letter and a list of points that you may want to raise in addition to whatever other concerns you may have.

Please copy any letter you send to us at ecp@allwomencount.net

Many thanks,

Cari Mitchell

Kier Starmer privateoffice@cps.gsi.gov.uk

Nazir Afzal nazir.afzal@cps.gsi.gov.uk;

The Reviewing Officer, 9th floor, Holborn Police Station, DX475 London Chancery Lane, 10 Lambs Conduit Street, London WC1N 3NR

Legal Action for Women

Crossroads Women?s Centre PO Box 287 London NW6 5QU

Tel: 020 7482 2496 minicom/voice Fax: 020 7209 4761

E-mail: law@crossroadswomen.net

Keir Starmer QC

Director of Public Prosecutions

50 Ludgate Hill

London, EC4M 7EX 28 April 2009

RE: Ms W

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Dear Keir Starmer QC.

We are writing on behalf of Ms W who has been charged under section 33 of the Sexual Offences Act 1956 with the offence to assist in the management of a brothel at two premises, one in Kingsway and one in Gray's Inn Road.

Ms W had no responsibility for either flat. She is not a tenant, did not hold keys, and does not pay any of the bills. She was an occasional visitor and her role was to ensure the safety of other women. Two years ago, she bravely escaped from a violent partner after 28 years of abuse. She is presently struggling to support herself, her disabled daughter and elderly mother who is housebound having suffered a stroke. Any prosecution would have a severe detrimental effect on her mental and physical wellbeing and on the welfare of her daughter and mother.

In addition, this prosecution is not in the public interest.

1. Alleged complaints against the flats were found by police to be unfounded. The justification for this prosecution is that these flats were nuisance brothels?. The police made four visits in one month to the Kingsway flat claiming that they had received complaints that a woman was heard calling for help and that there had been a serious assault in the flat. Officers visited and investigated and found no evidence of this or of any nuisance. PC Barrington, the local officer also visited the address at least three times during this period and found nothing to report.

In addition to these police visits there have been two raids on the Kingsway flat and one raid on the Gray's Inn flat. The only charges to arise from these raids are for brothel-keeping offences.

2. There is widespread opposition, including among members of parliament and peers, to women being criminalised for working collectively and consensually.

There is no evidence of force, coercion, violence, abuse or trafficking at these flats. Why are charges being brought?

We call your attention to statements from ministers and other parliamentarians that women working together in premises should not constitute a crime. In 2006, Home Office minister Fiona Mactaggart proposed changes to the prostitution laws:

Where women are working for themselves and are not being managed or pimped on a large scale, in the interim it is probably more sensible not to use the very serious penalties we have against people who run brothels. Very small scale operations can operate in a way that is not disruptive to neighbours. (Daily Telegraph 18 January 2006).

The Home Office has acknowledged:

. . .the present definition of brothel ran counter to advice that, in the interests of safety, women should not sell sex alone. (The Times 18 January 2006).

During the Second Reading of the Policing and Crime Bill (19 January 2009) Minister of State, Alan Campbell spoke against the criminalisation of women who were simply making cups of tea, keeping the diary and helping to keep the women safe.

3. Public opposition to the arrest and prosecution of sex workers is centred on concern for safety and an acknowledgment, particularly since the Ipswich murders, that criminalisation deters women from reporting violence and makes them more vulnerable to attack.

Ms W, like other friends and colleagues of women working in the sex industry, was the first line of defence against violent attacks. Charges of brothel-keeping being brought against women in this situation will force women to work alone.

4. The public is also increasingly concerned at police priorities which result in 15 officers raiding premises where women are working consensually while the investigation of rape and other violence continues to be downgraded and dismissed. Following the revelations of police incompetence over the trials of John Worboys and Kirk Reid and the publication of the damning IPCC report on police rape investigation, Women Against Rape, whom we work with closely, said

while the public make protection from violent crime their top priority for what the police should be doing, the Met and the Home Office have other priorities. . . . every day rape survivors comment on how terrorism, surveillance of protests, property crime and arresting sex workers take precedence over the safety of women and girls.

5. Criminalisation institutionalises women in prostitution. Ms W has no convictions for prostitution offences. If she is convicted it will ruin her chances of finding other employment.

How can a prosecution be justified when there is no evidence of harm or nuisance being caused and where the prosecution would have a severe detrimental affect on a woman who is struggling to manage and has other vulnerable family members dependent on her? If this prosecution were to go ahead, many would view it as vindictive and persecutory. We therefore respectfully ask that you exercise your discretion and drop this prosecution.

We are available to answer any questions or provide any further information you may require. We would also welcome a meeting to discuss the issues concerning prostitute women?s safety raised in this letter.

Looking forward to hearing from you.

Yours sincerely,

Niki Adams

Cc Nazir Afzal, Chief Crown Prosecutor London

Dru Sharpling, Chief Crown Prosecutor

OBM Reviewing Lawyer, Holborn Police Station

Women Against Rape

Andrew Pelling MP

MODEL letter

Dear Kier Starmer QC,

I have received information about the imminent prosecution of Ms W for assisting in the management of a brothel.

No force, coercion, trafficking or other violence was taking place on these premises. Why is it in the public interest for this prosecution to proceed? Why are serious charges, which could result in a sentence of seven years, being brought against a woman who was ensuring the safety of other women who were working consensually?

Women working alone without the help of women like Ms W are much more vulnerable to attack. Why is a prosecution being brought which undermines women's safety?

Any prosecution would result in a criminal record which will prevent Ms W getting another job. Ms W is trying to earn a living in increasingly difficult economic times. She is herself a victim of domestic violence and has vulnerable family members dependent on her. She deserves support not criminalisation.

I would like to know why precious police and court time and resources are being squandered in this way while crimes of violence including rape, which the public consider a far greater priority for law enforcement, go unresolved?

I am additionally concerned that raids and prosecutions are being fuelled by Proceeds of Crime legislation which awards 25% of all assets and monies recovered to the police and 25% to the CPS. It seems that both police and CPS have a vested interest in such prosecutions, a recipe for corruption.

I oppose this prosecution. I would like an explanation for the CPS decision to pursue this woman. I also ask that you reconsider dropping these unfair and unhelpful charges.

Sincerely,

LIST OF POINTS

Women working discreetly, consensually, independently and safely from premises should not be prosecuted. How can it be justified as being in the public interest to do so?

Public opinion is strongly opposed to the criminalisation of women who are not involved in situations where force or coercion is being used.

People are concerned about the devastating effect that a conviction would have on the life of a woman like Ms W, including the fact that a criminal record would prevent her getting another job.

Why are police and court time and resources being squandered on investigating and prosecuting women in this situation when crimes of violence including rape go unresolved?

Whenever the public is polled on what they consider should be a priority for the police violent crimes including rape and racist assault come top of the list. Prostitution where there is no violence involved never even features as a priority.

Ms W was trying to earn a living to support her disabled mother and daughter. At a time of recession it is particular unfair to deprive a woman in her situation of an income.

Raids and prosecutions are being fuelled by the Proceeds of Crime legislation which awards the police and the CPS with 25% each of all monies recovered when women?s income and assets are confiscated. This vested interest is a recipe for corruption.

Prosecutions have also increased since the government and particularly women ministers have initiated a moral crusade against consenting sex.

The Policing and Crime Bill currently going through parliament includes measures to throw women out of premises and criminalise clients. This will drive prostitution further underground and make it more dangerous for women.

English Collective of Prostitutes

PO Box 287

London NW6 5QU

Tel: 020 7482 2496

Fax: 020 7209 4761

Email: ecp@allwomencount.net

Web: www.prostitutescollective.net

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Just sent mine

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Just sent mine

And us too.

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Had a reply as follows:

"I recognise the concerns raised in various letters to us, and that I propose to investigate them and will notify you of our decision once it is made. It is not necessary for a campaign of letter writing, the strength of feeling is evident."

Erm... surely the strength of feeling is evident because of the campaign of letter writing? :rolleyes:

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I am pleased to say that Ms W walked away free from court. I understand that it was noted the amount of letters and emails received asking for the prosecution to be dropped.

So it seems the courts are listening and just the government and the police who as usual are ignoring facts.

This does illustrate however what I have been trying to explain that the wording re the present legislation and the proposed worse legislation will and does allow for the prosecution of anyone who in anyway assists even voluntarily anyone in this industry to work safely.

In short we are all at risk.

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Excellent news. Trial by jury or magistrate? I didn't write whilst it was sub judice but will now have a dig at the DPP, cc'd Boris Johnson, now re. wasting taxpayers' money and enquiring how this prosecution can even have been construed as in the public interest.

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Excellent news. Trial by jury or magistrate? I didn't write whilst it was sub judice but will now have a dig at the DPP, cc'd Boris Johnson, now re. wasting taxpayers' money and enquiring how this prosecution can even have been construed as in the public interest.

That is excellent news.

These two people were NOT so lucky.

L

http://www.liverpooldailypost.co.uk/liverpool-news/regional-news/2009/04/09/former-maghull-cricket-club-chairman-jailed-for-running-a-brothel-92534-23348174/

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I am pleased to say that Ms W walked away free from court. I understand that it was noted the amount of letters and emails received asking for the prosecution to be dropped.

I'm impressed. My sincere kudos to you, sir.

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Judge Warnock accepted the two brothels , Windmill on Oil Street, Vauxhall, and First Choice, in Canal Street, Bootle, had been "exceedingly well-run". But he added: "If there are those who seek to legalise prostitution, they should use legitimate and public channels and not flout the law or encourage others to do so."

I really do despair.

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I really do despair.

you should, the bar council lawer talked about "Places like the Netherlands, where prostitution is legal" (he also meant, where brothels are legal")

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this shows what can be achieved when we all pull together

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I really do despair.

The government seems to deliberately adhere to the 'Mushroom project'

(Keep you in the dark and pour doo-doo over you)

If Judges and Police chiefs themselves do not REALLY know the 'law'..what hope for the proletariat.

The Liverpool case, where the two 'brothel keepers' are now languishing in jail, is a travesty.

HMRC enjoyed the tax (and VAT where applicable) from both ladies and owners......

It was a 'well run' establishment.

The only comfort is that that they were spared the 'proceeds of crime' citation. The 'authorities' were after property and pensions (so that they could divide the proceeds for themselves presumably)

Huh! And they call that 'law'

I agree SaSfan, I too, really do despair.

L

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They broke the law, they were prosecuted!!!

I'm not saying that the law is right, but, until it's changed, it's still the law of the country, so anyone breaking it and getting caught, should be prosecuted.

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They broke the law, they were prosecuted!!!

I'm not saying that the law is right, but, until it's changed, it's still the law of the country, so anyone breaking it and getting caught, should be prosecuted.

I hadnt seen that story ! Cricket club and all :D

All very Terry and June "Carry on Brothel" and reminds me of earlier times when sex was deliciously naughty and risque postcards were all the rage.

Lets be honest were all the same the only difference between anti prostitution lobby and the rest of us is a ruddy good shagging. I think most of them have sexual issues that need dealing with.

* Giggles like Babs Windsor

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I hadnt seen that story ! Cricket club and all :D

All very Terry and June "Carry on Brothel" and reminds me of earlier times when sex was deliciously naughty and risque postcards were all the rage.

Lets be honest were all the same the only difference between anti prostitution lobby and the rest of us is a ruddy good shagging. I think most of them have sexual issues that need dealing with.

* Giggles like Babs Windsor

I can't imagine you giggling like Babs Windsor... it's just not you. LOL

But seriously, surely people know that it's against the law to run a brothel, don't they?

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They broke the law, they were prosecuted!!!

I'm not saying that the law is right, but, until it's changed, it's still the law of the country, so anyone breaking it and getting caught, should be prosecuted.

Agreed (ish), BUT--sentencing seems so subjective and at the whim of the actual geography/location of the house of ill repute.

The variation from constabulary to constabulary is truly staggering. I think they were VERY hard done by, especially when many threads on this fine site talks so openly on a public forum about 'massage parlours' and the comely charms of the ladies within.

L

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Agreed (ish), BUT--sentencing seems so subjective and at the whim of the actual geography/location of the house of ill repute.

The variation from constabulary to constabulary is truly staggering. I think they were VERY hard done by, especially when many threads on this fine site talks so openly on a public forum about 'massage parlours' and the comely charms of the ladies within.

L

I honestly think that their days are numbered.

It's a great shame, because some of them are good places to work, look after the girls etc.

I'm been considering the position of my forum (Sheffield Scene) with regards to adverts from parlours and agencies. Am I breaking the law by allowing them to advertise (all free adverts) with me, or by allowing posts and recommendations about them?

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I'm been considering the position of my forum (Sheffield Scene) with regards to adverts from parlours and agencies. Am I breaking the law by allowing them to advertise (all free adverts) with me, or by allowing posts and recommendations about them?

Provided that you are not in contravention of Section 1 (Loitering or soliciting for purposes of prostitution) of the Street Offences Act 1959 or any of the legislation (such as it is) regarding "carding", then, all other things being equal, online (or newspaper for that matter) advertising relating to the sale of sexual services is not illegal. The Internet has not been classed as a "public place" (in fact AFAIK the Internet has yet to be classed as anything) therefore advertising relating to the sale of sexual services cannot be classed as soliciting, this also holds good for newspaper adverts, which is why JS et al have to resort to other methods in order to reduce adverts in newspapers relating to the sale of sexual services because they are not illegal. I think that if there was the slightest chance that online/newspaper advertising relating to the sale of sexual services was in any way illegal JS et al would have used it by now.

Regarding "posts and recommendations about them", once again, all other things being equal, online posts and recommendations are not being made in a place classed as a "public place", and therefore cannot be classed as soliciting.

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Thank you SaSfan, for clarifying the situation.

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Provided that you are not in contravention of Section 1 (Loitering or soliciting for purposes of prostitution) of the Street Offences Act 1959 or any of the legislation (such as it is) regarding "carding", then, all other things being equal, online (or newspaper for that matter) advertising relating to the sale of sexual services is not illegal. The Internet has not been classed as a "public place" (in fact AFAIK the Internet has yet to be classed as anything) therefore advertising relating to the sale of sexual services cannot be classed as soliciting, this also holds good for newspaper adverts, which is why JS et al have to resort to other methods in order to reduce adverts in newspapers relating to the sale of sexual services because they are not illegal. I think that if there was the slightest chance that online/newspaper advertising relating to the sale of sexual services was in any way illegal JS et al would have used it by now.

Regarding "posts and recommendations about them", once again, all other things being equal, online posts and recommendations are not being made in a place classed as a "public place", and therefore cannot be classed as soliciting.

so why don't they just make it illegal?

a vague clause about promotion prostitution wouldn't have been very controversial

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so why don't they just make it illegal?

a vague clause about promotion prostitution wouldn't have been very controversial

Hmmmmmmmmm, well that would have been slightly tricky because the current legal situation regarding the advertising of sexual services is really an unintended consequence of SOA 2003, if we take the situation as it was prior to SOA 2003 then in theory a newspaper could have (I can't recall an actual case) been in contravention of Section 30 (Man living on earnings of prostitution) of The Sexual Offences Act 1956, aka living off immoral earnings, the consequences and potential outcomes of that particular legislation were thought, in those enlightened times, to be somewhat Draconian, and thus SOA 2003 repealed Section 30 SOA 1956 and enacted Section 53 (Controlling prostitution for gain) that requires both control and gain to be proven, thus enabling newspapers to take money for advertising sexual services without fear of reprisal, provided that advertising sexual services is not classed as control of course, but that is another story for another day.

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Hmmmmmmmmm, well that would have been slightly tricky because the current legal situation regarding the advertising of sexual services is really an unintended consequence of SOA 2003, if we take the situation as it was prior to SOA 2003 then in theory a newspaper could have (I can't recall an actual case) been in contravention of Section 30 (Man living on earnings of prostitution) of The Sexual Offences Act 1956, aka living off immoral earnings, the consequences and potential outcomes of that particular legislation were thought, in those enlightened times, to be somewhat Draconian, and thus SOA 2003 repealed Section 30 SOA 1956 and enacted Section 53 (Controlling prostitution for gain) that requires both control and gain to be proven, thus enabling newspapers to take money for advertising sexual services without fear of reprisal, provided that advertising sexual services is not classed as control of course, but that is another story for another day.

I doubt that, in fact after the kinky porn ban got through I believe anything is possible (i.e. you could be charged for owning images of yourself performing sexual acts that are lawful)

The Tobacco Advertising and Promotion Act

"An Act to control the advertising and promotion of tobacco products; and for connected purposes"

replace "Tobacco" with some phrase which covers everything from naughty underwear to kinky sex acts, and there you have it.

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I doubt that, in fact after the kinky porn ban got through I believe anything is possible (i.e. you could be charged for owning images of yourself performing sexual acts that are lawful)

The Tobacco Advertising and Promotion Act

"An Act to control the advertising and promotion of tobacco products; and for connected purposes"

replace "Tobacco" with some phrase which covers everything from naughty underwear to kinky sex acts, and there you have it.

You are right of course, anything is possible, however The Tobacco Advertising and Promotion Act 2002 was enacted in order to bring the UK in line with a European Directive (Article 95 EC I think but it has been amended so many times that I have lost sight of what it might be now) which prohibits any tobacco advertising with a potentially cross-border effect across the EU, to the best of my knowledge there is no European Directive on the advertising of sexual services and thus that particular easy and handy avenue is not open, so the banning of advertisements relating to the sale of sexual services might not be as easy as it first looks, also if it were that easy I have to ask myself why it was not done as soon as it was found that there was no legislation that could be used to ban it, I really can't see JS et al missing that particular trick, can you?

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