Thank you for contacting me about commercial sexual exploitation.
I know the Government is committed to protecting those selling sex from harm and enabling the police to target those who exploit vulnerable people involved in prostitution. It is also very important to ensure those who want to leave prostitution are given every opportunity to find routes out.
I am aware that there are different approaches to prostitution around the world, including New Zealand and in Scandinavia, as well as recent legislative developments in Northern Ireland. I am aware of the amendment tabled by Dame Diana Johnson to the Police, Crime Sentencing and Courts Bill, which would criminalise buying sex and decriminalises anyone offering sexual services.
The Government’s long-standing policy towards prostitution has been focused on tackling the exploitation associated with it and ensuring that those wishing to exit sex work are appropriately supported. I welcome the fact that the law around prostitution in England and Wales focuses on tackling harm and exploitation caused to those involved.
Ministers have assured me that they continue to meet and engage with experts, academics, the police and those who sell sex themselves to further their understanding on the issues around prostitution and this is all the more important during the Coronavirus outbreak. I will continue to press the Government to ensure those affected by the pandemic have access to the support they need.
Adult service websites and sex trafficking: You may be pleased to know that the Government is working to combat the use of online classified websites to facilitate sex trafficking. This action includes the National Crime Agency leading a multi-agency operational plan to investigate, disrupt and prevent sex trafficking facilitated via these websites. New innovative technological capabilities to help identify trafficking online are also being developed. I am also pleased that Ministers have introduced the draft Online Safety Bill, which will impose a legal duty on certain online services providers to tackle criminal activity on their services.
Thank you again for taking the time to contact me.
Craig Whittaker MP