Belfast Telegraph

Thursday 17 April 2014

Criticism of Human Trafficking Bill is justified

DETECTIVE Chief Superintendent Philip Marshall of the PSNI has recently drawn attention to problems with Lord Morrow's proposed Human Trafficking and Sexual Exploitation Bill, which is currently being debated in the Northern Ireland Assembly.

In particular, Mr Marshall highlighted enforcement problems around the controversial Clause 6, which would make it a criminal offence to pay for "sexual services" from "a person".

Mr Marshall has been criticised by the DUP and Lord Morrow's supporters.

However, as a senior police officer, Mr Marshall is no doubt aware of the relevant issues and has a duty and responsibility to highlight problems around legislation which will prove to be unenforceable and unworkable in practice. This is what he has done. Mr Marshall's criticisms are fully justified and in line with the best international and comparative research evidence.

Members of the Northern Ireland Assembly should consider why a similar proposal by Rhoda Grant was rejected by the Scottish Parliament earlier in the summer and why various forces in England and Wales are opposed to similar legislation. Indeed, the Deputy Chief Constable of Greater Manchester has gone further and suggested that prostitution should be decriminalised.

Perhaps the DUP and Lord Morrow have more insight into law enforcement than the PSNI?

DR GRAHAM ELLISON

School of Law,

Queen's University

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