back to article UK.gov prostitution proposals caught with pants down

Government proposals on prostitution and "trafficking" hit the rocks this week, as an in-depth investigation revealed a distinct lack of evidence for a supposed evidence-based policy. This is a seriously unwelcome development, as these sections of the Policing Bill currently being debated in the Lords have already attracted …

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  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    so

    Wonder if this'll make any difference the government has shown time and time again that it has no interest in facts and figures unless they are facts and figures that comply to their own interpretation of the world. e.g. the government(or their friends in the Police) decide that something is true, and that something must be done about it, then finds evidence to support their view ignoring the source or validity of the supportive evidence, or alternate evidence.

    So what's happening with the coroners justice bill thing? Where drawings get rights...

  2. Richard 81

    What?

    "[...]perhaps a little humility on the government's part, and a pause to look at the evidence that is out there would be in order?"

    You sir, live in crazy land.

  3. Graham Marsden
    FAIL

    Poppy...

    ... COCK!

  4. Steve Evans

    Eh?

    Since when has HM Govt policy ever been stopped by a lack of evidence?

    Take ID cards for example. There is no proof it will help the fight against terrorism (or even work at all). In fact given that Spain has had ID cards for years, and still suffered from a terrorist attack kind of sinks this whole argument.

    The conservatives have promised (politicians promise, so this is open to a complete U turn if the right hands are crossed with silver).

    Yet they still press ahead regardless.

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down

    You were doing great until...

    you mentioned humilty and government in the same sentence, and a sentence that didn't include a negative either. That finished me.

  6. JohnG Silver badge

    Lack of evidence

    A lack of evidence never seems to be a problem for Nu Labour - whether it concerns making new laws or invading countries, either have been justified by what at best could be described as errors but are often pure fabrication.

    On the subject of prostitution: I live in Germany where prostitution is legal but also controlled. Brothels are subject to strict planning constraints (such as not near schools, churches, etc.) and girls pay income tax, have health insurance and pensions. Crucially, being legal means that they can call on the police and other elements of law enforcement when needed. This makes control by organised crime and trafficking rather more difficult than in the UK. This may not be perfect but it is certainly better than the moralistic approach taken in the UK.

    A cynic might think that charitable organisations in receipt of public funds may be inclined to fabricate information if this leads to more government money.

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    25000 Elisabeth Fritzls in the UK alone

    The act of bring someone to the UK is expensive, the competition in prostitution is fierce. So the numbers don't make any sense. It does not make sense to kidnap girls and bring them to the UK and force them into sex with lots of clients and somehow hope that they won't tell the client to call the police.

    It is a fantasy to suggests that 25,000 women are currently prisoners used for sex, like that Austrian girl Elisabeth Fritzl (the girl kept by her father)!

    Remember that she had to be kept separate from others to stop her telling. Whereas a prostitute necessarily needs to meet lots of strange men, anyone of whom she can tell!

    So the story does not make sense.

    If anything this law means that the client *cannot* report suspicions to the police because Jacqui was trying to make it a crime to simply pay. So the person most able to report it, is the person she seeks to lock up. It was somewhere close to moronic thinking.

    Chinese workers, most of them have paid to get here, I hear it's $10k a go. The jobs they get are lined up by the local contact to try to earn money. It's the classic travel-to-a-better-life thing that sent Irish migrants to the USA in the early 1900s. Made more difficult because of the job restrictions in the UK.

    Some become sex workers, well so do many British girls. Others are luckier and find domestic cleaning jobs or similar, perhaps work for Baroness Scotland. Just because they came, couldn't find a job as a cleaner and ended up selling their pussy, doesn't mean their traffic'd, yet they are counted as traffic'd to make up the numbers.

    The "mail-order brides were also victims of trafficking", is just plain insulting! They're not even prostitutes. Do any of these batty women in Labour know how insulting it is to have your wife called a prostitute because she went through a dating agency?

    So the numbers are fabricated, and the people behind those numbers, have a hatefilled agenda, usually based on racism, envy, self loathing, or simply see an opportunity to enrich themselves, or empower themselves in the case of law enforcement wilfully misleading people on the real numbers.

  8. The Original Ash
    FAIL

    Shock! Horror!

    Next you'll tell me that the prohibition of recreational narcotics is based on flimsy pseudo-science and conjecture, and that even government sponsored clinical trials and studies have clearly demonstrated *scientific fact* which contradicts many of the claims used to back legislation against their use!

    Oh, wait...

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Stop

    Eyes tight shut and fingers in ears - repeat the mantra

    4th June 2010 - 4th June 2010 - 4th June 2010.

    A maximum of 6.5 months to go.

  10. Ross 7

    No surprise

    Ah, Government and stats.... To be expected really. Especially as 99%* of your Sun readers have as good a grasp of stats as they do of hydrodynamics.

    It will *never* happen under NuLab, but the best bet for everyone (and I do mean everyone) would be to license brothels in non-residential areas (say industrial parks), crack down on street walking, and provide NHS health checks for all the workers.

    You get the prossies off the streets (mainly), remove them from their drug dealers/pimps (not that I'm saying all prossies are druggies, but the most vulnerable tend to be), get a small amount of income from licensing, get a larger amount in tax/NI and keep as many law abiding folk as possible in good health (taking or giving money for sex ain't illegal in the UK. OK, in England and Wales - not sure about Scotland so can't comment there).

    Of course El Gov has no interest in protecting its population - just subjugating it, and with that pseudo-Nazi HH swinging her weight about it'll never happen.

    *made up hugely inflated number

  11. Chris Green
    Thumb Down

    Overstate reality...Make law...Recount = Lower...Result!

    Simple politicians playing with numbers to pretend they are useful.

    Reality is nothing they are interested in. It seems to me that prostitution has been around longer than almost any 'trade'. It can either exist in the open, where it's controlled and taxed or it is pushed underground and the further it goes down that path, the more dangerous it becomes. Those that do the work will pay a higher price.

    Those that control them with live well, only holidaying in prison if really unlucky.

  12. breakfast
    Unhappy

    Don't despair yet...

    The evidence I've heard, from people who worked with statistics under various governments over the last thirty years, is that the Tories, particularly later in their reign, were deeply abusive of statistical evidence ( or refused to collect it if they thought it might make them look bad ) and the 1997 labour victory was a breath of fresh air. I wonder if it's just another symptom of an old tired administration that has nothing left to it but hubris and lies.

  13. Scott 19
    Thumb Down

    Confussed

    I thought this was surrpose to help these poor ladies, running round just plain lieing to look big and get your mits on funding seems to be counter productive?

    Or are these new state funded organisations the new guangos?

  14. BlueGreen

    Article by a bloke, comments...

    ...by blokes, AFAICS anyway. I'd like some female views here.

    (signed)

    A bloke.

  15. MinionZero
    Joke

    @UK.gov prostitution proposals

    Every time NuLabour opens their collective mouth, most of us react like we feel used and unclean! ... but NuLabour still continue to just take and never give us what we want! ... a quick election, why what were you thinking I was going to say? ;)

  16. RW
    WTF?

    Their heads are in the air

    "it [prostitution] is a way of life that is a sensible economic choice for some, and the source of oppression and abuse for others."

    That statement could describe nearly any occupation, with the possible exception of the seriously over-paid fat cats at the top of the corporate heap. One might also add that many jobs (quite possibly including prostitution) are both a sensible economic choice *and* a source or oppression and abuse. After all, it's called "work" for a good reason, and we are paid to do it.

    More tellingly, this whole dispute reveals once again that NuLabour is driven by ideological biases that are based on fantasy. In the particular case of prostitution, one can't help but have a sneaking suspicion that the strong anti-sex bias of NuLabour, personified especially by Harriet Harman, is behind the proposed legislation.

    It seems like many, most, perhaps all politicians enter office full of preconceptions and biases (this is called ideology), then spend their time trying to pound square pegs into round holes and trying to solve what they think are major problems while ignoring the real problems. I am reminded of a comment by the wartime mayor of (iirc) Tokyo who said that the #1 issue for his office was feces: getting rid of human waste. Indeed, most of government is (or should be) devoted to such mundane matters: getting rid of wastes, cleaning streets, changing the lamps in streetlights, delivering the mail quickly and efficiently, and so on. Very rarely is it given to a government to solve some Major Problem of Society.

    The real issue with prostitution is simply that it is illegal; most of the evils associated with it arise from that single fact. Legalize it and there will still be evils associated with prostitution, but at least they will be fewer, more manageable evils than those caused by illegality.

  17. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    @Article by blokes

    "I'd like some female views here."

    The Nicki quoted in the article is a woman, their views were ignored too:

    http://www.prostitutescollective.net/

  18. Anonymous Coward
    Flame

    humility...

    Don't hold your breath. On this particular issue the Govt is in thrall to the fundamentalists and extremist feminists, and both are using the spectre of child prostitution as a weapon. No politican dare defy that, they're all far too scared of a daily mail headline.

  19. Anonymous Coward
    Flame

    "a specific model of academic virtue" WTF?

    You mean "peer review"?

    Christ on a cracker. You're talking about enacting laws that are almost certainly gonna be used to slam people into jail for the rest of their lives, divert millions from prevention, safety and mitigation protocols, strengthen the Russian mafia (they control sex trades, almost the world over) and probably kill more than a few folks.

    Damn straight you should follow "a specific model of academic virtue."

    Personally, I don't like prostitution, I don't like what it does to people on both sides of the rubber, but I really, REALLY despise the politicians' "War On Brains™".

    Here, in NY (USA), we had these charming laws called the Rockefeller Laws. They were ruled unconstitutional in the early eighties, but just recently taken off the books, which means that about 1,200 people who have spent decades behind bars for such heinous crimes as "Smoking a Joint Near A Rich School," or "Selling Pot to A Politician's Daughter" can finally get some real justice.

  20. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Trafficking

    I may have mentioned this before, but I actually met a "trafficked" woman. That's one more than most people I bet. However, she's a garment worker, not a prostitute, didn't come here unwillingly, was never held prisoner, and last I heard the people who brought her here had pretty much given up trying to collect.

    I think it's safe to say her experience is more typical of "trafficking" than the picture painted gov/media/charities. But it would be so much harder to get people worked up about, so why let the truth get in the way of a good story?

  21. Anonymous Coward
    Flame

    Poppy lies for money

    So that makes them all prostitutes. They've sold themselves for money.

    So why haven't they suggested legalizing the business, licensing, taxing, etc. and just make it legit? Wouldn't that solve about 99% of their problem (except their holier than thou attitude)?

  22. BlueGreen

    @AC 17:18

    I know Nicky Adams is a woman and I know where she stands and why, however I'm talking about commenters here on the reg.

  23. Watashi

    What's the agenda?

    All sounds very similar to the kind of stunts Bush and his big industry puppeteers used to pull in America.

    Step 1. Find (or create) a grass-roots pressure group which has a 'special' working knowledge of a particular area and which agrees with your own political agenda.

    Step 2. Throw money at the pressure group so they can raise their own profile (and also that of your political position) and in turn provide you with the 'evidence' needed to support your mutual agenda.

    Step 3. Push through legislation on the basis of the dubious evidence before anyone works out that it's a scam.

    The question is, why does New Labour feel it needs to hoodwink us all? Is this just an example of authoritarian control-freakery? Or is it part of a wider (and welcome) attempt to deal with sex crimes in general? Or perhaps the wider agenda is a profoundly non-secular, religiously inspired attack on sin?

  24. John Ozimek

    Authenticity

    @BlueGreen "By blokes commented about by blokes"

    So should I hand this piece over to women? Prostitutes?

    This issue came up recently at an academic conference - who is an authentic voice when it comes to discussing this issue...and more to the point, whether imposing such conditions on writing about prostitution is not to single it out.

    After all, I can write about politics, the law, policing and many other topics without being a politician, lawyer or pc. Is the sex business so different?

    Relevant question, since one of the publications for which I write definitely thinks this. I can write about almost anything. Gay issues. Straight issues. Kinky issues. Without ever the flag being raised of whether I am gay, straight or kinky. I have even written for them on what I would say is mostly a woman's issue.

    Still no batting of eyelids.

    On t'other side of the fence, I write about the pro-censorship lobby and their views on porn, the internet, etc. But I don't have to be a censor (or fundamentalist Christian to do so).

    But prostitution: ah...there the requirement is that I prostitute myself before I am allowed to put pen to paper (or finger to keyboard).

    How strange...

  25. Gordon Ross Silver badge

    @Ross 7

    "Especially as 99%* of your Sun readers have as good a grasp of stats as they do of hydrodynamics."

    Fact is stranger than fiction. A journalistic friend once told me that when writing for the tabloids, your writing style should be aimed at a seven-year old.

  26. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Womens' Hour

    BBC R4's Women's Hour had something on about sex trafficing a few months ago now. They had someone on the programme who was basically saying that all the figures are distorted, the government's numbers don't add up and this was being exhaserbated (can't spell) because anyone who was foreign and caught by the police in the act would tend to say "I've been trafficed" in order to be treated as a victim and probably get off, rather than a suspect/criminal and probably charged.

    There were letters. And emails. And phone calls. They were mainly angry.

    R4 also had the all of the numbers examined on 'More or Less' they completely pulled apart all of the government's "data" which basically says that any foreign woman working as a prostitute must have been trafficed.

  27. Sir Runcible Spoon Silver badge
    Joke

    @BlueGreen

    I'm not a bloke and so's my wife.

  28. Number6

    @Steve Evans

    I was thinking the same thing. Lack of evidence never stopped them before. If necessary they can just commission a report to meet a pre-defined set of conclusions and fudge the numbers so it can be interpreted as supporting them. Provided they restrict it to topics that don't have a lot of irate victims, no one will challenge the numbers. However, it's more interesting to watch them react when they get caught out...

  29. Anonymous Coward
    IT Angle

    Good article...

    ...well written and i've bookmarked it to follow up by reading the Guardian pieces later on when things in the office are past the Friday afternoon rush.

    A nice piece of journalism but - IT Angle?

  30. John Stirling

    A No.10 petition is the answer

    Demanding an independent commissioner of lying. Any minister or senior public servant found guilty of substantial distortion is automatically put on probation - 3 strikes and they are barred from holding public office for life, and their name is entered on a 'register of liars' for 10 years.

    Include the stocks, and rotten tomatoes as well.

    The commissioner for lying themselves will hold enormous power, but everything they investigate should be a matter of public record (regardless of outcome), which should keep them mostly honest. Further they should report to parliament, not the Government.

    What's not to love about that as a structure. a million supporters for sure.

    Those number 10 petitions, they are the way to change the world...

  31. BlueGreen

    @John Ozimek

    You misunderstand. I never implied you couldn't write or have an opinion on this subject [*], nor with any other man, just that there's no apparent comments from women. Being the other side of this, I'd like something from them. Not political correctness, just the chance of a different perspective.

    [*] hmm, now you mention it, it did come across a bit wrong. Okay, sorry. Not intended that way.

  32. Sarah Bee (Written by Reg staff)

    Re: Good article...

    *deep breath*

    The Register has always carried articles relating to politics and entertainment as well as IT. Is that a problem?

  33. John F***ing Stepp

    Garbage In is Garbage Out

    @Sarah Bee

    GIGO takes this firmly into data collection; a problem existing before I got into the (snicker) field.

    So, after 45 years of IT; no, no problem at all; why would you even wonder?

    (Besides the obvious fact that your government is being prurient and that is always funny as hell.)

  34. John Ozimek

    @BlueGreen

    Oh, don't worry. No offence taken. I was merely using you as a hook on which to hang the authenticity issue - particularly as it came up recently elsewhere.

    Came up twice, in fact. Once around prostitution: once around something that MIGHT count as a "woman's issue".

    Twas ever thus...but since I do take a stance, when writing in comment mode, of being a libertarian on issues of sexuality, it poses me a particular problem. A couple of friends have suggested I write under a pseudonym, using whatever is most (gender) appropriate for the medium in question.

    That feels like it solves nothing and if anything re-inforces the problem by colluding in a rigid worldview.

    Bottom line: I think it would be utterly wrong of me - since it would be untrue - to write about "the experience of" being a prostitute, being raped, etc. from any sort of first person view point

    But that so long as I am acting as an honest, accurate and insightful conduit for the experience of another, that is a legitimate thing for me to do - and my part in that process should not be strait-jacketed by the various societal roles that I occupy from time to time.

    The only thing that matters is how well I communicate.

  35. Carnifex
    Troll

    Random thoughts

    1. I find it hard to believe that there is such demand for prostitution services over and above what the local labor force is able to supply as to require 25,000 slaves in England alone to fill it. On this basis alone the numbers are suspect.

    2. As professions go, a prostitute generally has a higher moral standing than a politician. One only sells their own body while the other attempts to sell everyone's body, property, minds, and souls.

    3. "The business of government is to stay in business" and so who can really wonder why they might manufacture an issue or twenty?

  36. Mike 137

    It's just a matter of preoccupations

    Legislation has become primarily a PR exercise. As a culture, we're obsessed by sex, so anything that refers to it gets maximum public attention, and that means ministerial attention, as those in government rely on public approval to stay in a job. It's therefore seen as essential rather than merely legitimate to over-stress these issues even if it requires lying. The same has happened in the case of that nasty but incredibly rare phenomenon - terrorism. If we were equally obsessed by tennis, the situation would be no different - just the emphasis: "Tennis racket crime on the rise. Something must be done...".

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