Prostitution laws in the UK are set for an overhaul
The Home Office Select Committee has recommended that soliciting sex is no longer an offence, prostitutes have their criminal records wiped and that brothel-keeping provisions are changed.
But rather than ruling out the recommendations, the Government has instead agreed to order a wide scale probe on the issue in order to facilitate evidence-based policy decisions.
The report, published in December 2016, set out the Government's response to the Home Office Select Committee's findings on the issue.
The Government has ordered a probe into prostitution in the UK
The committee led by Yvette Cooper recommended far ranging changes that will seek to decriminalise sex workers in England and Wales are implemented.
The report states: "We recommend that, at the earliest opportunity, the Home Office change existing legislation so that soliciting is no longer an offence and so that brothel-keeping provisions allow sex workers to share premises, without losing the ability to prosecute those who use brothels to control or exploit sex workers.
"There must be zero tolerance of the organised criminal exploitation of sex workers.
"The Home Office should also legislate for the deletion of previous convictions and cautions for prostitution from the record of sex workers by amending the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act.
"In our final report, we will consider the purposes of the law on prostitution and what the research shows about how those purposes can best be fulfilled, including whether a different approach should be taken to on-street and off-street prostitution".
As a response to the requests, the Government has ordered a comprehensive probe into the reality of sex for sale in the UK.
They said: "We understand that some evidence submitted to the Committee during the Inquiry has suggested that legislation preventing sex workers from working together in premises can lead to isolation and increased vulnerability to harm.
"The Committee suggests that amending brothel-keeping provisions to allow sex workers to share premises could therefore have the effect of improving safety for those involved.
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The Government is once again looking at prostitution laws
"However, as highlighted in the Committee’s report, this amendment would require particularly careful consideration of the link between brothels, trafficking and organised criminal gangs. We also note the Committee’s recommendations regarding decriminalising soliciting and removing the burden of criminal convictions.
"We do not have at present a robust evidence base regarding the scale and nature of prostitution in England and Wales.
"In line with the Committee’s previous recommendation concerning people trafficking and research, this would have to be established before the merits and demerits of any policy changes and their potential implications were to be considered."
There's been a clampdown historically but that could be about to change
Now civil servants are getting set to oversee an investigation into how widespread the problem is in the UK in order to take a fresh look at laws.
Their official response states: "We recognise the strong arguments for commissioning a research project into the prevalence and nature of prostitution in England and Wales.
"The Government believes that without this evidence base we cannot rigorously evaluate the likely effect of those recommendations made regarding legislative changes.
"The research will be designed to ensure that we fully understand the scale and changing nature of prostitution and sex work in England and Wales, enabling us to make informed evidence-based policy decisions on how any changes to the law will ensure that we are safeguarding those involved and supporting those who want to exit.
"We will scope such a project with a view to commissioning or conducting it as soon as is practicable."