Police commissioner calls for prostitution to be legalised over fears for sex workers' safety

Picture by PA.
Picture by PA.
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Sex work should be decriminalised to ensure the welfare of women involved in the practice, a police chief has said.

Northumbria Police and Crime Commissioner has said Vera Baird has was speaking after a report by the Home Affairs Select Committee (HASC) said soliciting by sex workers, and sex workers sharing premises, should be decriminalised.

Ms Baird, was invited to provide a written submission as part of the committee’s inquiry on Prostitution, which helped inform the report, which is published today.

Vera Baird

Vera Baird

She said: “Regardless of whatever brings women into sex work it is apparent that most are vulnerable victims and I fully back the notion of decriminalising sex workers. A criminal sanction on a sex worker only serves to reduce the chances of them seeking support to help exit sex work or to work with agencies to understand and better manage personal health and safeguarding issues.

“The focus, here in Northumbria, is on support for sex workers. As part of our Violence Against Women and Girls Strategy, we have a dedicated strategic lead in relation to sex work as well as Sex Worker Liaison Officers at each Area Command who work closely with sex workers and partner organisations who offer support.

“Despite the findings of this report I believe the ‘sex buyer law’ would be another step in the right direction and would go a long way towards diminishing the abuse of power, exploitation, inequality and harm that is involved.

She added: "I also believe that in such as trafficking for prostitution offences it is essential that communities are able to see perpetrators being held to account and that justice is seen to be done. Further research from the Home Office into the various legislative options would be welcomed, to clarify this and other grey areas and make the position of the law clear once and for all."