A poll conducted by GfK (February 28 – 2 March) for Professor Colin Francome, director of the Campaign for Radical Sociology, shows that over half the population of the UK is opposed to the criminalisation of prostitution. Only three in ten nationwide were in favour. In London it was only one in four.
Prof. Francome will announce the findings of the poll tonight at a meeting in Parliament: Stop the Criminalisation of Sex Work – Safety First!
Sex workers from Sweden and other European countries, as well as England, Ireland and Scotland, will be speaking about the impact of the criminalisation of prostitution, and their campaigns for safety and rights.
The exact wording for the poll was:
Currently in the UK under certain circumstances, it is legal for men and women to pay for sex. There are some people that wish to make it illegal for the user to pay for sex. Do you think such a criminalisation is a good idea or not?
In response 51% agreed that ‘No, paying for sex should not be criminalized.’ 31% agreed that ‘Yes, it should be illegal to pay for sex.’ The other 18% had no opinion.
There was little difference between the sexes with 53% of men and 49% of women opposing criminalisation. Under a third of both sexes were in favour. The social class analysis revealed little difference between the AB, C1 and C2 groups: between 51-53% opposed criminalisation. 47% of the lowest social category – the DE group – opposed criminalisation with 33% in favour. People in part-time and full-time work were slightly more opposed to criminalisation than those not employed.
Professor Francome commented:
‘The evidence from the Poll shows that such criminalisation would not have the support of the general public. I think it would be a mistake for Parliament to interfere with people’s personal decisions about their sex lives or occupations.’
Cari Mitchell of the English Collective of Prostitutes which is organising the Parliamentary meeting commented:
“Members of parliament should pay attention to public opinion and drop proposals for the blanket criminalisation of sex workers’ clients. Criminalising clients will not stop prostitution, nor will it stop the criminalisation of women. But it will make it more dangerous and stigmatising for sex workers.
We are appalled that MPs have nothing to say about the unemployment, benefit cuts and sanctions, lowering wages, increased homelessness and debt which are forcing more women, particularly mothers into prostitution. Their proposals will further divert police time and resources from investigating rape, trafficking and other violent crimes to policing consenting sex.”