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Police, Sex Work, and Section 14 of the Policing and Crime Act 2009

NCJ Number
Howard Journal of Criminal Justice Volume: 53 Issue: 3 Dated: July 2014 Pages: 255-269
Sarah Kingston; Terry Thomas
Date Published
July 2014
15 pages
After reviewing the origin and objectives of Section 14 of the British Policing and Crime Act 2009, which establishes strict liability for paying to receive the services of a prostitute who has been subjected to exploitation, this study documents the number of times and occasions Section 14 has been used by the police in England and Wales and its outcome.
Although it is not mentioned in the law, a review of the dynamics of its enactment indicates it is aimed at countering trafficking of persons for commercial sex against their wills by reducing the demand for such services. Strict liability means that intent or knowledge by the customer regarding the prostitute having been coerced into prostitution by a trafficker is irrelevant to legal culpability; however, it is necessary to prove that the prostitute in the case at issue has been coerced into prostitution. This offense came into effect on April 1, 2010. As of June 2011, the Crown Prosecution Service has identified 40 offenses charged under Section 14. Overall, there is no clear indication that this law has reduced the demand for or supply of prostitution services. Difficulty in enforcing this law by police stems from their inability to collect persuasive evidence from prostitutes that they have been coerced into prostitution. Those who are victims of trafficking fear retaliation from their traffickers or controllers if they cooperate with the police. Consequently, police have been reluctant to use their resources to enforce this law. 3 tables and 38 references