Blunkett Review Could Decriminalise Brothels; TERM 'COMMON PROSTITUTE' IS SET TO BE ABOLISHED IN LAW REFORM

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Byline: BEN LEAPMAN

PLANS for the biggest overhaul of laws on prostitution for half a century will be unveiled by the Government tomorrow.

Measures could include the decriminalisation of brothels in an attempt to stop exploitation by pimps.

Prostitutes under 18 will be treated as abuse victims, not offenders. The legal term "common prostitute" will be scrapped as demeaning.

But "tolerance zones", where streetwalkers are free to ply their trade, are likely to be rejected because they have proved magnets for trouble in trial schemes.

Police efforts to enforce the law are set to shift from women to men, with prostitutes' clients facing the prospect of being named, shamed and fined in court.

Home Secretary David Blunkett will issue a consultation paper containing proposals to sweep away 35 offences, some dating back to the Fifties.

Under current laws, it is not a crime for a man to pay for sex or for a woman to operate as a single prostitute from a room or flat. But a string of related statutory offences includes soliciting, procuring, brothel-keeping and living off immoral earnings.

The ban on kerb-crawling has been tightened under Labour, and street prostitutes can now be issued with antisocial behaviour orders carrying the threat of jail if they reoffend.

Estimates of the number of women working in the sex trade in Britain range from 30,000 to 80,000. Many are illegal immigrants brought from abroad by organised crime gangs. …