I have previously argued the case for a review of the law on prostitution. Successive governments have tended to shy away from dealing with the issue or arguably made the situation worse. The law as it stands creates major problems. It isn’t an issue that will go away and women are being murdered.
I therefore welcome the call from the Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO) for a review of the law. As the ACPO spoksman, Simon Byrne, says “Some of it is frankly complicated. We’d be keen for a dialogue to see if there’s a better way of managing the problem – whether it be ideas around criminalising some parts of it and not others. I think it’s time for that debate.”
ACPO is in a more authoritative position than I am to make such a call. I think the need for a review is becoming more urgent. I know from the contributions of readers that there is a clear case for examining what happens in other countries, not least New Zealand.
I know Royal Commissions have their critics. Harold Wilson famously observed that they are bodies that take minutes but sit for years. Nonetheless, they can serve a valuable service, enabling a qualified body to examine an issue in detail and in public. I have advocated a Royal Commission, or at least some body of inquiry, into our drug laws. I think a similar body on the law on prostitution is essential.