Extension of Borough Wide Prostitution Public Spaces Protection Order

Closes 14 Jul 2021

Opened 7 May 2021

Overview

The ‘Routes Out of Prostitution’ Scrutiny Working Group (Aug 2018) led to Redbridge Council adopting the following policy statement;

The Council believe that no one should be able to buy the body of another person for sex, where management, control or coercion is involved.

The Council believes that the majority of women involved in prostitution are vulnerable whether that might be as a result of substance misuse or the wider prevalence of poverty, management, control and coercion.  As such women involved in prostitution need to be supported rather than punished, putting their safety and wellbeing first.

The Council believes that work should focus on a combination of enforcement activity to reduce demand including taking a more focussed approach to kerb crawling, control and coercion, coupled with taking a supportive approach to women, seeking to increase engagement with services that provide exit opportunities.

 The Council believes that where on street prostitution is present, the local community and local councillors should be involved in the development and review of partnership and support activity.

A further recommendation was that the Council should introduce a Public Space Protection Order (PSPO) to cover the whole of the Borough to disrupt demand by targeting those purchasing sex. Following a 12-week consultation process the Order, granted under S.59-75 Anti-Social Behaviour Crime and Policing Act 2014, came into force on 21st August 2018 to last for a period of three years. Before this order came into force only the Police could enforce through arrest and prosecution for kerb-crawling offences, an approach which requires a greater burden of proof and is hugely resource intensive.

Since the introduction of the PSPO almost 200 Fixed Penalty Notices (FPN’s) have been issued to those seeking to buy sexual services including 37 in the last 8 months despite the covid pandemic. The additional enforcement the PSPO has enabled has seen the demand for prostitution reduce significantly and the number of women involved in street prostitution has subsequently reduced from 30 per night to less than five.

The vast majority of men who receive a fine for breaching the PSPO paid the £100 fine, one was contested but ultimately received a £300 fine and ordered to pay costs of £300 after pleading guilty at Barkingside Magistrates Court.

Why we are consulting

At the March 2021 Prostitution Strategy Group Meeting, partners from Police, Local Authority Enforcement, Community Safety and Women’s Outreach Services were all firmly in agreement that the ability to enforce against men seeking to buy sex is a major factor in the reduction in prostitution related activity and the lower number of women involved in on-street prostitution.  All agreed that removal of the PSPO could lead to the increased levels of activity seen prior to its introduction.

As the Order approaches expiration, the Council’s position in relation to the above policy statement remains the same. It is understood that the Coronavirus Pandemic has also influenced prostitution in Redbridge, and as we move out of Government Restrictions it is vital that Enforcement opportunities remain that can deal with any potential resurgence.

The Prostitution Related Activity Public Space Protection Order may be extended for a period of 3 years. To achieve the extension, it is necessary to undertake a period of public consultation to ensure residents are supportive of such action. 

Please take a few minutes to read the PSPO below and respond to this consultation. 

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Interests

  • Neighbourhoods
  • Prostitution
  • Crime & Safety