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Section 53, Controlling For Gain

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I can see that there have been various mentions of 'Controlling Prostitution for Gain' but the ultimate response appears to be that the 'offence' is one which exists but is in such a grey area that action never seems to be taken.

The wording of the act is pretty clear.

53 Controlling prostitution for gain

(1)A person commits an offence if—

(a)he intentionally controls any of the activities of another person relating to that person’s prostitution in any part of the world, and

(b)he does so for or in the expectation of gain for himself or a third person.

(2)A person guilty of an offence under this section is liable—

(a)on summary conviction, to imprisonment for a term not exceeding 6 months or a fine not exceeding the statutory maximum or both;

(b)on conviction on indictment, to imprisonment for a term not exceeding 7 years.

I am only asking out of curiousity, but it seems to me that people who run 'agencies' and control the girls, moving them from one flat or hotel to another, and taking a cut of the proceeds, are clearly guilty of the offence.

Why is this 'offence' apparently ignored? Is it because by allowing the activities to continue, that sector of the industry retains a greater visibility and accountability, which may protect those involved?

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Many police authorities will turn a blind eye to brothels and agencies provided that they don’t cause a nuisance or involve under-age or coerced girls. This especially applies to those agencies which don’t have any physical presence such as flats.

If the agency are using flats with more than one girl then given the choice the CPS will usually prefer to prosecute under section 33A (keeping a brothel used for prostitution) because it’s a far easier offence to prove, and the maximum penalty is the same, ie. 7 years in Crown Court.

The CPS have a poor track record in sucessfully prosecuting agencies under section 53 (controlling). In the Silk & Lace case (2007), the defendants were found not guilty at Southwark Crown Court by a jury of 9 women and 3 men, and that was after the defendants chose not to take the stand and give evidence.

There are of course other offences that can be prosecuted, including trafficking and money laundering.

I tend to agree with you. Any prostitute working in a brothel or for an agency is almost certainly controlled within the meaning of section 53. As you will have seen there is no statutory definition of “control” in the Sexual Offences Act 2003. The Court of Appeal considered the point to a certain extent only in R v Massey [2008] and (inter alia) stated that “ control” does not need “force” or “coercion”. The judgement did not consider or touch upon escort agencies.

To answer your point, I think that for the most part escort agencies are left alone. For those agencies where a prosecution is required the CPS would probably prefer to go with another offence or offences rather than section 53.

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