Suffolk: Ex-detective superintendent backs campaign to prosecute men who pay prostitutes for sex

Ex-Detective Superintendant Alan Caton

Ex-Detective Superintendant Alan Caton - Credit: Archant

A former detective superintendent who led Ipswich’s response to the murders of five sex workers by Steve Wright is backing a campaign to proscecute men paying for prostitutes.

A “sex buyer law”, as seen in Sweden, Norway and Iceland, should be adopted in the UK to decriminalise selling sex and make paying for it illegal, according to the End Demand campaign, which launches.

MPs are set to vote on an amendment to the Modern Slavery Bill put forward by MP Fiona Mactaggart to introduce such legislation when it proceeds to report stage in the House of Commons later this month.

Supporters of the campaign include Alan Caton, a former head of public protection with Suffolk Police, who led the county’s trailblazing prostitution strategy after the Ipswich murders in 2006.

Mr Caton, who was awarded an OBE in 2012 for Services to Policing, said: “From years of policing in this field, I believe that prostitution is dangerous and harmful regardless of whether it takes place on the street or in a flat. Sex buyers feel the present law gives them licence to exploit vulnerable women - and they are right.

“That is why I support a change in the law which draws on our experiences in Ipswich and on the successes seen in Sweden and Norway.

“By decriminalising the sale of sex, criminalising the purchase of sex, and providing the necessary support and exiting services to help women find routes out of prostitution, we can shut down the demand that is fuelling the exploitation of women through prostitution.”

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The Sex Buyer Law - often referred to as the Nordic Model - was introduced in Sweden in 1999.

End Demand campaigners said research has shown the legislation reduces demand for prostitution, with the number of men paying for sex in Sweden declining since the law was adopted.

In addition, they said it shrinks prostitution markets. Street prostitution has halved in Sweden since the Sex Buyer Law was introduced and there is no evidence it has just been displaced.

Other supporters of the End Demand campaign include Unison, TUC Women’s Committee, Scottish Trades Union Congress, Irish Congress of Trade Unions, UK Feminista, Women’s Aid, Eaves and the End Violence Against Women coalition.

Crime prevention minister Norman Baker said: “It is already illegal to pay for the sexual services of someone subjected to force, coercion, or threats. We have no current plans to reconsider the legislation around prostitution.”