After six weeks of confusion and delay, police insist they are poised to send a letter to more than 170 London newspapers outlining plans to crack down on editors who publish adverts for massage parlours that turn out to be brothels containing trafficked women.It’s a dirty job, but someone’s gotta do it….
The saga of the letter however, isn’t so amusing. Nor is the consideration behind it:
In October, we exclusively revealed police plans to get newspapers to stop running sex adverts.ALL sex adverts. Not just those later found to be fronts for trafficking.
And whatever reservations you might have about this trade, it IS a legitimate business.
This will start with a letter to editors asking them to co-operate.‘Or else…’
If they do not comply it is believed police will attempt to prosecute editors and publishers whose papers run adverts for brothels found to contain sex slaves for aiding and abetting sex trafficking using new laws passed last year.Really? They’ve got the resources to waste on this, have they?
Would they not be better spent, then, going out and finding those breaking the law?
At the time, police were known to be working on a letter to be sent to editors detailing their plans.I wonder why?
However, within days the Metropolitan Police Service’s (MPS) press office was spinning the story, with the head of department Ed Stearns insisting to one editor that no letter existed.
Cold feet, perhaps? Queries over the legality of – in effect - warning businesses that they cannot accept advertising for other legal businesses or they will be held responsible for any illegal acts by those businesses?
You’d certainly hope so, wouldn’t you?
A few days later, a member of his staff confirmed the existence of a letter and said it was being checked by the Met’s legal team.Yeah, I’ll just bet it was…
But no letter was sent, with a range of reasons being suggested, from key people being on holiday to the need to get a large number of senior officers to sign it off.Who, if this all goes tits up when it’s put into practice, will no doubt be looking for a large hole to hide in…
Two weeks ago, Mr Stearns called Newsquest’s group editor for south west London and Bucks, Andy Parkes, admitting to the existence of the letter and confirming it would be sent to editors on November 22.‘Fears’..?
But Monday passed with no letter, fuelling fears the police might be watering it down under pressure from the newspaper industry.
But this week the press office insisted the letter would be sent out imminently.My goodness, but it’s taking you a hell of a long time to issue a simple letter, isn’t it?
A spokeswoman said: "Officers have seen from a considerable number of their investigations that advertising in newspapers can play a key role in facilitating the exploitation of trafficked victims for sexual services, with organised criminal networks seeking to advertise this crime through local newspapers or advertising journals.
"As a result, SCD9 [responsible for vice crime] is writing to editors of local London newspapers to ask them not to allow advertising space to be used to promote these practices.
"For the Croydon Guardian to suggest the MPS has been delaying sending the letter out is simply not true.
"We are committed to reducing the opportunity for criminal networks to continue their illegal activities and their exploitation of vulnerable people.
"This is just one way in which we are tackling this issue. The letter will be issued when it is ready, which is likely to be in the very near future."
Naturally, the sort of single issue loons who are usually driving this kind of legislation are cock-a-hoop. Mainly because they don’t have the brainpower to envisage the legal slippery slope they are building…
Denise Marshall, the director of charity Eaves Housing, which helps trafficked women, said: “We are really pleased that the police are committed to tackling editors who advertise brothels in their publications.Just as prohibition never succeeded, trying to stop men buying sex is like trying to hold back the tide. It can’t be done.
"By making it more difficult for men to buy sex, this initiative could have the power to reduce the number of women being exploited in prostitution.
"We fully support the police’s initiative and commend Newsquest’s commitment to the issue."
A CCAT spokesman said: “The Croydon Community Against Trafficking is deeply encouraged by the action the police are taking to enforce laws relating to the exploitation of people in our town and country.Does it? Does it really? The evidence seems to point the other way.
“Human trafficking exists in our town, and indeed all around the UK and is largely evident in the exploitation of women, through sexual services they are forced to perform.”