Belfast Telegraph

Friday 19 September 2014

Prostitution law reform debated

Lord Morrow will bring a Bill to the Northern Ireland Assembly on Monday which, if passed, would see men who purchase sex criminalised instead of those who sell it

The Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) has insisted it does not support the "liberalisation" of prostitution laws - as a debate on proposed legislation gets under way.

Lord Morrow will bring a Bill to the Northern Ireland Assembly on Monday which, if passed, would see men who purchase sex criminalised instead of those who sell it.

Assistant chief constable Drew Harris said the PSNI wanted to find an alternative to tackling prostitution and human trafficking.

"The PSNI position is clear in that we do not support the liberalisation of laws in relation to prostitution," Mr Harris said.

"We are striving to find better ways to tackle the serious problem of prostitution and human trafficking and are keen to be part of the wider societal debate about how we can collectively minimise harm caused by prostitution."

The assistant chief constable said while investigations into prostitution and trafficking are complex, the PSNI would do what it can to reduce harm and risk involved to all those concerned.

He said the police service had worked closely with the Department of Justice in giving its views on Lord Morrow's Bill and is satisfied its comments would be taken on board in any future legislation.

"Having provided input to the consultation, PSNI will respect the role of the Assembly and will be ready to fulfil our responsibility regarding enforcement of any new legislation passed by the Assembly," Mr Harris added.

Lord Morrow's Bill is based on a Swedish law that was enacted almost 15 years ago, which criminalises anyone who pays for sex.

Elsewhere, campaigners in the Republic of Ireland are calling for similar changes to Irish laws.

They have claimed that pimps and people traffickers will be forced out of business if landmark changes to vice laws are passed.

Proposals from an Oireachtas committee to penalise buyers rather than prostitutes have been hailed as an effective way to tackle the exploitation of women.

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