AddThis SmartLayers

Police send editors warning letters over sex ads

Newspaper editors across London have been sent letters by police warning them they could be prosecuted unless they stop running sex adverts involving women who could have been trafficked.

A letter was sent to more than 170 editors yesterday afternoon by the Metropolitan Police Service telling them they could be held criminally liable if adverts in their titles turn out to be linked to human trafficking, exploitation or proceeds of crime.

The letter from Detective Chief Superintendent Richard Martin, head of the Human Exploitation and Organised Crime Unit, asks editors to put a system in place to ensure they do not accept adverts which are a front for such criminal activity.

It comes after claims in the Croydon Guardian last month that editors could be prosecuted if the continue to run adverts for brothels, after an eight-month investigation into sex trafficking by reporter Kirsty Whalley.

The letter from DCS Martin says advertising in newspapers could play a key role in allowing the exploitation of trafficked victims.

He writes: “The adverts in question often purport to be massage parlours, saunas or escort agencies, but are in reality a front for criminal networks to advertise trafficked victims for sexual services.

“I am therefore seeking your support to help us address this issue by ensuring that your publications do not allow advertising space to be utilised to promote these practices.

“Advertisements that offer multi-national or young women or which are sexually suggestive in tone are often the type found to be linked to the provision of sexual services and / or the presence of trafficked women.

“It is these types of adverts I am seeking your support in preventing. I would ask that you put in place a system to satisfy yourselves that those seeking to place advertisements are genuine concerns or businesses and not a cover for the types of criminal activity highlighted above.

“As you will appreciate, criminal liability can arise in certain circumstances where evidence clearly shows that the advertising in question supports or promotes offences associated to trafficking, exploitation or proceeds of crime.”

Newsquest is the only major newspaper publisher in the capital to ban sex ads from its newspapers.

5 comments

You can follow all replies to this entry through the comments feed.
  • November 26, 2010 at 2:19 pm
    Permalink

    It’s not really possible to justify any newspapers running sex ads, no matter how desperate they are for the revenue. However, I do find the Croydon Guardian’s holier-than-thou attitude slightly nauseating. As they freely admit in every story on the subject, they were happily running the very adverts they now insist are illegal until as recently as 2008. Follow that logic through and it’s akin to a burglar setting himself up as a paragon of virture because he’s gone 24 months without breaking into anyone’s house. (Incidentally, I’m not sure what the statute of limitations is when it comes to prosecutions for aiding and abetting pornography, I wonder if it is more than two years?) Oh, and as I’ve said before, stick the MDs in a police interview room, not the editors.

    Report this comment

    Like this comment(0)
  • November 29, 2010 at 11:00 am
    Permalink

    @RT ‘Fail’ — big time. Well done, Kirsty. Award in order.

    Report this comment

    Like this comment(0)
  • November 29, 2010 at 1:18 pm
    Permalink

    Plenty of businesses are a front for criminal activity (money laundering, for example) are newspapers not to accept their ads either? The fact is papers need the money from these ads so no doubt they’ll find a way round this (let’s pray they do anyway because otherwise it’ll just mean more redundancies).

    Report this comment

    Like this comment(0)
  • November 29, 2010 at 10:57 pm
    Permalink

    And I thought that maybe, maybe… you know… the Police would leave the ads alone and go investigate, since it’s much easier when you know who’s operating these schemes, and where, when they advertise in a central newspaper… But no… let’s hide our heads in the sand so the figures look good on the reports.

    Report this comment

    Like this comment(0)
  • November 30, 2010 at 3:40 pm
    Permalink

    So, the met police are all but admitting they are not willing to do their jobs (was to take down organized crime directly), instead they have resigned themselves to bullying local news papers into doing their job for them..? If our police are so inept at detecting these ‘organized criminals’ that they can advertise in the local papers, why should we think the papers would be any better at detecting them? also i thought trafficking was shown to be so rare as practically to be a myth..

    Report this comment

    Like this comment(0)
Take part in our Reader Survey here