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Tackling On-Street Sex Work: Anti-Social Behaviour Orders, Sex Workers and Inclusive Inter-Agency Initiatives

NCJ Number
Criminology & Criminal Justice Volume: 7 Issue: 2 Dated: May 2007 Pages: 153-168
Tracey Sagar
Date Published
May 2007
16 pages
This article critiques the British Government's use of antisocial behavior orders (ASBOs) in addressing the problem of female on-street sex workers.
The author concludes that ASBOs should not be issued against on-street sex workers, because they adversely affect social/welfare work with these women. Although the aim of the ASBO is to prevent persistent antisocial behavior (without recourse to criminal sanction) that a magistrates' court deems a nuisance to a neighborhood, upon breach of an ASBO the defendant faces the possibility of imprisonment up to 5 years. The ASBO has the effect of driving on-street sex workers from the area covered by the ASBO to other neighborhoods. Also, ASBOs are increasingly being used to disrupt drug markets by driving prostitutes out of disadvantaged areas where drugs and sex markets have operated in unison prior to redevelopment. ASBOs are generally being used as a short-term reactive measure and as a sentencing add-on. ASBOs do little to address the root causes of on-street prostitution. There should be no illusion that ASBOs cause women to stop being prostitutes when it is their only means of economic survival. It only serves the interests of residents who are offended by prostitutes working in their neighborhoods. Policies toward prostitution in a given neighborhood should emerge from discussions among social workers and others who work with prostitutes, police officials, and community representatives. Policies should reflect a balance between residents' concern to eliminate prostitution as a nuisance and the socioeconomic needs of prostitutes. 4 notes and 58 references