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URGENT Policing and Crime Bill - take action on Tuesday morning to improve the law

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Halfway through the Policing and Crime Bill's journey through Parliament, the Home Secretary has introduced the first legislation on prostitution that targets violence and coercion rather than consensual sex work.

Tomorrow, the Scrutiny Committee report on the Policing and Crime Bill is presented to the House of Commons, and the Bill receives its third reading. Only one day of parliamentary time has been allotted for this - an astonishingly small amount of time for a large bill: there are 77 clauses, which cover police accountability and effectiveness, alcohol regulation, the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002 and airport security as well as sections 13-20 on prostitution.

We've already changed the Bill vastly for the better. The Home Secretary has lodged an amendment that limits criminalisation of clients to those who pay for sex with someone subjected to force etc.' not those of us who are 'controlled for gain' (i.e., use a third party to find clients). This government say this should still be a strict liability offence (strict liability is used for things like parking tickets, and ignorance is no defence against charges of sex with someone underage).

However, in the past few days, new clauses and amendments have been introduced by other MPs that could improve things even further.

Debate doesn't start till 2pm on Tuesday. Call your MP tomorrow morning on 020 7219 3000

and ask them to support new clauses and amendments that prioritise the safety of people in the sex industry, and decrease our criminalisation. Ask your MP to support

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What a brilliant write up, this deserves support, the work done so far to protect the status quo and more is a mamoth effort, still more needs to be done to make sexual freedom the norm which it should be. Keep up the pressure and keep up the good work. Parliamentarians are vulnerable at present so keep banging away to get their attention.

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Here is a briefing paper from the ECP.

BRIEFING on the POLICING AND CRIME BILL 2009

By the English Collective of Prostitutes

Co-ordinators of the SAFETY FIRST COALITION

Third Reading Tuesday 19 May.

Using flawed trafficking statistics as justification, the measures target anyone involved in prostitution whether or not there is force or coercion. They would drive prostitution further underground and sex workers into even more danger. In the present recession, and combined with the Welfare Reform Bill also going through parliament, they will have a devastating effect, first of all on women and their families.

We urge you to:

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And to continue:

OPPOSE CLAUSE 20: Extending closure orders to brothels

Closure Orders are already being brought against premises where drug use or "disorder or nuisance" are alleged based on "tenuous evidence in which hearsay evidence is admissible." (See briefing by Release).

In February, we won a rare victory against a Closure Order. Police claimed that women in two flats in Soho encouraged anti-social behaviour. When examined in court, the police case was based on ONE third hand anonymous hearsay claim. We countered with evidence from local people who appeared in person in court and prevented women being evicted from the safety of their flats. This case exposed the shameful flimsiness of evidence commonly used to close premises.

The police expect most sex workers to be unable to come forward for fear of exposure and most magistrates to rubber stamp their action. Instead of protecting the right to a fair trial, the bill would lower the evidence threshold even further.

The new clauses would remove the need for anti-social behaviour to be proved. Where the police believe that certain offences are being committed or "will be committed" including "causing, inciting and/or controlling prostitution for gain" they can close premises and the occupants must, within 48 hours, go to court to defend the closure. Few people would even be able to get legal representation in this time. "Controlling" is already being used to criminalise women working independently, collectively and consensually especially where there is a receptionist for protection. Women will be thrown out of premises where it is 10 times safer to work than the street.

OPPOSE CLAUSE 25: Lap-dancing to be reclassified as "sex encounter establishments".

This would increase the cost of licensing and the stigma. Lap-dancers have described working collectively with other women with good safety systems, and earning more than they would in other jobs. Is this what the government finds objectionable? (See statement below.)

OPPOSE PROCEEDS OF CRIME

Police and prosecutors have a vested interest in raiding brothels and prosecuting sex workers. This corrupting of the police has wide implications for all policing and prosecutions.

Since the Proceeds of Crime Act, raids have become profitable: the police keep 25% of any assets confiscated both at the time and from subsequent prosecutions; the Crown Prosecution Service keeps another 25%; and the Inland Revenue the rest. It is common for police to seize any money found on premises they raid. Even if no one is charged, the money is rarely returned as police take advantage of sex workers' reluctance to go public. Women who have worked for years to put money aside lose not only their livelihood but their home, car, life savings, jewellery, etc. This theft by law enforcement is the worst form of pimping.

We believe it is a main reason why anti-prostitution raids and prosecutions are now high up on the police and government agenda. Government figures provided in response to questions by Lord Faulkner show a marked increase in prosecutions for controlling prostitution and brothel-keeping - neither offence requires force or coercion to be proved and are used primarily against women working consensually and collectively from premises.

The new clauses allow property to be seized before a person is charged where "a criminal investigation has started . . . and there is reasonable cause to believe that the alleged offender has benefited from his criminal conduct". They also expand the definition of an "appropriate officer" to implement these powers to include for example "an accredited financial investigator".

FACTS ON TRAFFICKING YOU SHOULD KNOW

1. Trafficking figures are flawed.

Trafficking has been used as the main justification for these proposals. But the UK charge of trafficking for prostitution, unlike trafficking for any other industry, does not require force or coercion. This enables every woman with a foreign accent to be falsely labelled a victim of trafficking! The widely used claim that "80% of women working in the sex industry in the UK have been trafficked" was recently discredited on a Radio Four programme[1]: even if 80% of women working in brothels, saunas and massage parlours are not British, "foreign does mean forced".

In response to questions by John McDonnell , the Home Office has disowned these figures. And its latest estimate that 4,000 women are trafficked into the UK a year cannot be verified as the Home Office claims they come from an "internal Home Office document".

Information that the phones at the UK Trafficking Centre are answered by immigration officers indicates that far from providing protection anti-trafficking initiatives are primary aimed at the targeting and deportation of immigrant women.

2. Victims of trafficking are not being helped.

Despite government claims about prioritising trafficking, most victims get no protection. Last week the Guardian exposed that 77 suspected child victims of trafficking went missing from a local authority care home over a period of two years. Only four children have been found and there have been no prosecutions. A surveillance operation at the home was cancelled, and despite it being known that children were disappearing more young people kept on being sent there. What does this say about the priority given to cases of trafficking where harm may be occurring that resources couldn't be found to place two officers outside the home to stop the children disappearing? What does it say about the immigration authorities which worked hand in hand with the police and kept sending children there? These children would not be better protected with the measures in the Bill.

SUMMARY

The Safety First Coalition agrees with the English Collective of Prostitutes that forcing prostitution further underground endangers lives. Safety First includes anti-poverty campaigners, church people & residents from Ipswich & elsewhere, the Royal College of Nursing, the National Association of Probation Officers, members of the medical & legal professions, prison reformers, sex worker & drugs rehabilitation projects. If prostitution is forced further underground women will be exposed to greater dangers and be less able to come forward to get help. See separate quotes from members of Safety First.

Government proposals claim to offer protection and safety, and "support those involved in prostitution to develop routes out". They do not. In Scotland, since clients were criminalised in October 2007, the number of assaults on sex workers has soared. Attacks reported to one project have almost doubled from 66 in 2006 to 126 last year, including eight reported rapes and 55 violent assaults.

The Policing and Crime Bill is going through Parliament at the same time as the Welfare Reform Bill which will have a devastating impact on women and what's left of the Welfare State. As the economic recession hits, more women, especially mothers, are likely to resort to prostitution to support their families. Together these Bills are legislating for destitution and prostitution, and therefore the criminalisation of many more women and the neglect of many more children.

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Not sure if it's a typo but in your first post where you talk about strict liability you say ignorance is no defence against someone who is underage. This is not true and is actually a major point that needs to be brought up. In theory if a person is caught having sex with a 13 year old girl, whether it's paid or not, they have a valid defence to say that they reasonably believed the girl was over age(16 if not paid, 18 if paid). Obviously you'll have your work cut out if you're trying to claim you thought a 13 year old was 18, but what about a 15 year old? Rape does not have strict liability. An RAF man was cleared after having sex with a 15 year old girl while she was sleeping. She was underage. She was clearly not consenting. But because a psychiatrist testified he was asleep too, and suffering sexsomnia, he was cleared. Possession of child pornography doesn't carry strict liability. If you downloaded it accidentally and deleted it immediately, it's a valid defence. Or if you didn't know she was underage - like Tracy Lords first few porn movies were filmed when she was 15, due to fake ID she had obtained. The people who bought them at the time were not liable for prosecution.

This new offence is very similar to rape. Basically if they could PROVE you knew the girl had been forced or threatened or deceived they could already charge you with various offences. So this law is ONLY designed to be used on men who know nothing of the offence they've committed; and by everyone's admission they almost certainly COULDN'T know. The girl's are almost never going to admit to something that will scare away a customer and get them into shit with the pimp.

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This will be the only offence that I'm aware of on the statute books where a reasonable man has no way of avoiding breaking a law. Other than to avoid prostitutes altogether. You don't have to stop driving to avoid busting a red light, or driving without insurance, or speeding. You just have to drive carefully and pay attention. You can easily avoid breaking health and safety laws by checking on your staff regularly to ensure they're not faking safety checks. You don't have to stop running a legal business.

End rant.

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Those who wrote that have never heard of the KISS principle Keep It Short and Simple (Keep it simple stupid)

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Those who wrote that have never heard of the KISS principle Keep It Short and Simple (Keep it simple stupid)

Two papers from two organisations for different audiences I belive.

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Don't pay for sex from a girl who will buy drugs with the proceeds, you face the same strict liability penalty that was attached to the "paying for sex from a prostitute who is controlled". Firstly how will plod know whether a girl buys drugs with the actual proceeds of prostitution and does drugs mean tobacco and achohol, a very wide interpretation can be made of this clause!

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As we expected, only a few hours of parliamentary time were devoted to discussing the sections on sex work in the Policing and Crime Bill. As we expected, the Bill passed as agreed by the government, including criminalising only clients of those "subjected to force", not "controlled for gain". As expected, there has been outcry from organisations and journalists whose aim is to eradicate all prostitution that this change "weakens the law and makes women less safe" - as if targeting violence and coercion rather than consensual sex work makes us less safe.

We asked people to lobby their MPs for three reasons.

We knew it would not affect the content of the Bill at this stage but it does raise the profile of this issue with MPs - one of the main problems we have is that almost all information on the sex industry is from health projects and the criminal justice system, so many of us are, effectively, invisible (not that the government is paying much attention to the evidence at present).

It also helps counteract the organisations that hold the extreme view that all prostitution is violence against women, which have been very successful in getting media coverage over the past few days: the more MPs who hear from people who know the reality, good and bad, of working in the sex industry and can describe the harmful consequences of criminalisation, the closer we get to a real debate about how to improve things.

Thirdly, the more lobbying we've done at this stage, the more we have to build on when the Bill goes through the Lords.

So what happens next?

Parliament is in recess from Thursday 21 May to Monday 1 June, and then sits for about 7 weeks till Tuesday 21 July. Then, there's a break till October.

The Bill will probably go through the Lords in June/July. We've heard that the first reading in the Lords (a purely administrative procedure) may be scheduled for 4th June, but this may change.

On June 4, there are European elections; there've also been rumours of a cabinet shuffle or changes at the Home Office that might take place in June - these things could make a big difference.

In the House of Lords, debate will take place at the second reading, followed by the Committee stage which looks at the Bill in detail (in the House of Lords this is usually everybody, as opposed to the small groups used for Committees in the Commons). Then third reading, and then the Bill goes back to the Commons to become law.

The IUSW will begin contacting people in the House of Lords over the next week or so. We're also going to try to set up more meetings with Home Office ministers, but will probably wait until mid-June for this, depending on the parliamentary timetable.

We may also make suggestions for lobbying candidates in the European elections.

You can read the whole debate at

http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm200809/cmhansrd/cm090519/debtext/90519-0005.htm

You can track the Bill online at

http://services.parliament.uk/bills/2008-09/policingandcrime.html

Click on <Show> to see full details of each section.

If you have any questions, suggestions or want to take part, please contact Catherine at the IUSW

catherine@iusw.org

07868 492276

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An update, and already Jacqui has change the amendements.

The Bill has already had its first (administrative) reading in the Lords and that the second reading is scheduled for 3 June. Smith has amended the definition of force to include McTaggart's "force" includes coercion by threats or other psychological means including exploitation of vulnerability."

The full text of clause 13 follows. I've not yet checked through the amendments to ensure there's no change to the other clauses.

Cxx

CLAUSE 13 BEGINS

Paying for sexual services of a prostitute subjected to force etc.

(1) A person (A) commits an offence if

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An update, and already Jacqui has change the amendements.

The Bill has already had its first (administrative) reading in the Lords and that the second reading is scheduled for 3 June. Smith has amended the definition of force to include McTaggart's "force" includes coercion by threats or other psychological means including exploitation of vulnerability."

The full text of clause 13 follows. I've not yet checked through the amendments to ensure there's no change to the other clauses.

Cxx

CLAUSE 13 BEGINS

Paying for sexual services of a prostitute subjected to force etc.

(1) A person (A) commits an offence if

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that is taken from the Forced Marriage Act 2007 so look at such cases to begin with.

I'm sure the feminists have found something which can be used in a nasty way.

sounds very much like we're back to square zero

A marriage can be considered forced not merely on the grounds of threats of physical violence to the victim, but also through threats of physical violence to third parties (e.g. the victim's family), or even self-violence (e.g. marriage procured through threat of suicide.)

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The 'psychological' bit could apply for example in a situation where a punter sees a straight massuer and then persuades her to give him a HE.

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The 'psychological' bit could apply for example in a situation where a punter sees a straight massuer and then persuades her to give him a HE.

As far as I can see the references to "force, deception or threats" and "other psychological means including exploitation of vulnerability" relate to actions by a third party © and not by the punter (A).

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As far as I can see the references to "force, deception or threats" and "other psychological means including exploitation of vulnerability" relate to actions by a third party © and not by the punter (A).

yes of course, but so does control for gain, so what are you trying to say?

I see situtations like this one:

If a bad guy © tells a girl (B)"you'd better cough up cash quickly and pay your debts(for drugs or whatever) or we'll burn down your mothers house" girl decides that selling sex is really the only way she can get the money fast enough

so if a punter (A) pay to have sex with her, he has comitted a crime even if he doesn't know anything about the situation(and how the hell could he know something like that)

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yes of course, but so does control for gain, so what are you trying to say?

My post was in reply to :-

The 'psychological' bit could apply for example in a situation where a punter sees a straight massuer and then persuades her to give him a HE.

(that is why I quoted that post in my reply)

Which I read as indicating that "The 'psychological' bit" could apply to the punter, my reply was to point out that as far as I could see any "force" (as described in section 4) applied to the actions of a third party © and not to actions by the punter (A), that is what I was trying to say. It had nothing to do with "controlled for gain" or strict liability, or anything else for that matter, merely that a certain clause related only to a particular party.

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my bad, well it's still legal to bullshit a woman to bed :rolleyes:

but can a bill really be amended after the 3rd reading and before the Lords?

or was this amendment passed during the 3rd reading?

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but can a bill really be amended after the 3rd reading and before the Lords?

or was this amendment passed during the 3rd reading?

Unlikely to the former and I have no idea on either, but given that it appears that some believe that expenses can be claimed without incurring a related expense to be within the rules, then I guess it is possible.

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looks like this was amended on the 19th, the report stage preceded the 3rd reading, and what was passed was a bill which contained this. So it has not been added later.

19 May 2009 : Column 1450

Amendment 215, page 16, line 4, at end add

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My post was in reply to :-

(that is why I quoted that post in my reply)

Which I read as indicating that "The 'psychological' bit" could apply to the punter, my reply was to point out that as far as I could see any "force" (as described in section 4) applied to the actions of a third party © and not to actions by the punter (A), that is what I was trying to say. It had nothing to do with "controlled for gain" or strict liability, or anything else for that matter, merely that a certain clause related only to a particular party.

I stand corrected. Remember folks this may become law but it only needs one failed court case and it will be another useless Nu-Labour legislation.

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looks like this was amended on the 19th, the report stage preceded the 3rd reading, and what was passed was a bill which contained this. So it has not been added later.

19 May 2009 : Column 1450

Amendment 215, page 16, line 4, at end add

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Well I really think they'll struggle if it's combined with strict liability. It'll be extremely difficult and contentious to prove in a court that a woman's been coerced through vulnerability, and if a court is going to find it that hard then it's surely illegal to hold a punter in strict liability. There are going to be no prosecutions where a man KNEW as these would be rape or sexual assault charges. So it'll be an offence only used on men who don't know. Surely that has to be against legal principles?

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It must have been added afterwards or during the speach. I remeber hearing McTaggert bringing up the issue.

I just realized that the 3rd reading didn't actually start until

9:31 pm Third Reading.

and lasted until

9.50 Bill accordingly read the Third time and passed.

(see link) http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm200809/cmhansrd/cm090519/debtext/90519-0023.htm

so everything before 9.31 (the speeches etc. that was the report stage)

Report Stage

A further chance to consider amendments, new clauses and, for MPs not on the

Committee, to propose changes.

Third reading: House of Commons

In the Commons, amendments cannot be made to a Bill at third reading. The debate on the Bill is usually short, and limited to what is actually in the Bill, rather than, as at second reading, what might have been included. At the end of the debate, the House decides whether to approve the third reading of the Bill.

Third reading: House of Lords

Unlike the Commons, amendments can be made at third reading in the Lords, provided the issue has not already been voted on at an earlier stage.

Amendments at third reading in the House of Lords are often used to clarify specific parts of the Bill and to allow the Government to make good any promises of changes to the Bill made at earlier stages.

As with the Commons, at the end of the debate, the House decides whether to approve the third reading of the Bill.

http://www.parliament.uk/documents/upload/HofLBpBillsandhow.pdf

http://www.parliament.uk/about/how/laws/stages/third.cfm

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It must have been added afterwards or during the speach. I remeber hearing McTaggert bringing up the issue.

This ammendment (to JC's ammendment) was submitted on 18th May, by Fiona Mactaggart, Lynda Waltho, Ms Sally Keeble and Judy Mallaber. See http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm200809/cmbills/066/amend/pbc0661905m.922-928.html. It was accepted during the report stage.

All the proposed ammendments were then compiled and organised by Vernon Coaker (or somebody like that) into the form which now exists on the website.

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