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write into the lords or it'll be right into court

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Here is a letter I was sent today which I think is outstanding :

Dear Lord or Lady,

I write to urge you to oppose Clauses 20 and 13 of the Policing and Crime Bill, now in its Report stage and heading to Third Reading on 11th November.

Clause 20 facilitates the summary closure and sealing of brothels by the police. It is open to abuse when it is realised that a 'brothel' may be no more than two women working and living together for reasons of company and safety. If these women are forced out of premises it is likely that they will seek to continue working, but in more dangerous circumstances. For an example, please see: and

where the police sought to close prostitute flats in 61 Dean Street, Soho -on evidence later thrown out by the magistrate- and where at least one displaced woman then took to the greater danger of the King's Cross streets.

What possible good is achieved by such closures? If the concern is about women's safety it is surely safer if prostitutes can work together. If the concern is about trafficking -of which more below- then it is easier for the police to 'keep an eye' on established brothels than on dispersed prostitutes. This was perfectly understood by the present Government in 2005/6 when it proposed legalisation of 'mini-brothels'

The volte face from this earlier policy has not been explained, and it is hard to escape the view that is reflects only a triumph of the views of the present Deputy Leader of the Labour Party and the recent Home Secretary over evidence and common sense. This is a poor basis for legislation.

Beyond urging you to reject Clause 20 I would urge you to support any amendments restoring the former policy of allowing mini-brothels.

Clause 13 (now apparently 14) creates a strict liability offence of having sex with a prostitute who has been forced. 'Forced' includes 'coerced by threats and other psychological means including exploitation of vulnerability'.

I would agree that any punter who knowingly has sex with a forced prostitute is guilty of rape and deserves to be punished accordingly. But strict liability means that a client can be fined up to £1000 even if he does not know the prostitute's circumstance or if she has lied to him about them. This goes against legal principle and natural justice and, as the Parliamentary Joint Committee on Human Rights noted:

… [there] should be a requirement that the defendant was aware or at least ought to have been aware that the prostitute was controlled. We suggest amendments in the format that has also been suggested by the JCHR in its report on the Bill…

The clause on 'other psychological means including exploitation of vulnerability' is particularly iniquitous, for how is the court to decide on the psychological state of the woman at the time she became a prostitute?

I suspect that the purpose of Clause 13 is to 'send a message to punters' and that there will be few prosecutions, not least because it is so hard to find and keep track of the very few trafficked or coerced prostitutes who are identified- see e.g.

.... cont'd

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Consequently the clause probably shouldn't worry clients very much. However a malign unintended consequence will be that a client who suspects 'his' prostitute was trafficked will be less likely to inform the police, for fear that he will be prosecuted. Punters do report cases, as detailed in Case A (p28 para 1) of Surely the legislative framework should seek to encourage such reporting, not to discourage?

Turning to the background, I am aware that you are receiving much lobbying in support of clauses 13 and 20. Many supporters are motivated by a moral view of prostitution based on particular religious or feminist precepts, but seek to justify their opinions on a series of assertions, summarised by the Archbishop of York in a recent Sunday Times article ( that:

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Bloody hell Laura - that's a letter and a half! -

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Wow what a fantastic well researched piece of work a truly superb letter I only wish I had sent that instead of the one I did!

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I can't beat that letter from Laura.

Here though is a missive from the ECP.

Dear Friends, your support is urgently needed today and tomorrow.

Prostitution clauses are being debated in the Lords tomorrow afternoon, Tuesday 3 November. This is our last chance to get changes in the Lords. A number of Peers oppose the clauses and will be speaking against them. But they need others to join them.

We have heard that Peers are getting emails every day from those who want to criminalise men who pay for sex. They need to hear from those of us who don't agree with criminalisation.

If you haven't written opposing this and the other prostitution clauses in the Bill please WRITE TODAY. If you have already written, WRITE AGAIN.

You can find the emails of the Peers at:

Let Peers know the strength of your conviction and the breadth of opposition to the Bill. You can use the model letter but they would take note of your letter much more if you write about your our personal experience and views:

Over 40 organisations have signed a statement against the Bill. If you are part of an organisation or can sign in a professional capacity and haven't added your signature yet, please do so right away at:

We hope you have seen the following information:

1. Lobby and Briefing for Peers, 6-7pm this evening in Committee Room 3A in the Lords Please come along if you possibly can. Come into Parliament through the main St Stephens entrance, giving yourself at least half an hour to get through security.

2. Demonstration against the Bill on Tuesday afternoon 12-2 in Parliament Square. We would appreciate your support as there will be a pro-criminalisation demonstration at the same time. We will be going into the public gallery in the Lords after the demonstration to listen to the debate and you are welcome to join us.

3. Nick Davies's excellent Guardian investigation, our response to it and other good comments and letters. Davies exposed how figures on trafficking, which have been used to justify the Policing and Crime Bill and the raids and deportations against sex workers, were fabricated. Our letters have not been published

4. Our response to Denis MacShane MP who is telling lies about our work and continues to peddle the same discredited trafficking claims.

5. Watch the Newsnight debate between Mr MacShane and Niki Adams (ECP). It has attracted a lot of attention.

Hoping to see you this evening and on Parliament Square between 12 noon-2pm tomorrow.

Many thanks and best wishes,

Safety First,

Cari Mitchell

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That is a superbly researched and documented submission Laura. I sincerely hope it has the desired effect and sanity will prevail.

We should, however, consider to whom and where it is being presented and remember the following;

"The mind is like a parachute, it only works when it's open "

( a quote by Icebear Lustman )

"Never under estimate the power of stupid people in large


We can but hope.

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we all need to email the lords and show there's opposition to the bill, otherwise we'll all be criminalised

some proposed amendments

Clause 14


20 Page 17, leave out lines 33 and 34 and insert—

"© A is aware, or ought to be aware, that C has engaged in exploitative conduct of that kind"

21 Page 17, leave out lines 38 and 39

22 Leave out Clause 14

Clause 20



32 Leave out Clause 20

Clause 21


33 Leave out Clause 21

if clause 13 is 14 now, then 20 must be 21 now ?

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