Should Police Resources Be Used Against Prostitution?

PRO (yes)

William Bratton, Police Chief of Los Angeles, California, and George Kelling, PhD, wrote in their Feb. 28, 2006 National Review article "There Are No Cracks in the Broken Windows":

"We've argued for many years that when police pay attention to minor offenses — such as prostitution, graffiti, aggressive panhandling — they can reduce fear, strengthen communities, and prevent serious crime."

Feb. 28, 2006 - William Bratton 
George Kelling, PhD 

The POPPY Project, a London-based research project focused on prostitution and human trafficking in the UK, in its Dec. 2004 report "Paying the Price: Eaves Response to the Home Office Consultation on Prostitution," wrote:

"We support a return to vice squads. Support services for women in prostitution have long stated that vice squads patrolling street prostitution areas are preferable to the alternative, and that some women have the opportunity to develop regular contact with individual police officers, many of whom have built up an expertise regarding the issues and the individuals on their beat. This can make it easier for women to report attacks and robberies.

The police should only arrest those involved in prostitution if they are committing additional offences, and shift the focus to the customers and pimps. Although few selling sex are likely to support a crackdown on customers because it will mean a drop in their income, evidence from Sweden has shown that for some of the women on the street, removing the buyers created a space for them to consider leaving prostitution. It also meant that, because the women were not being arrested, they could begin to view the police as being there to assist the vulnerable."

Dec. 2004 - POPPY Project 

Kenneth Cauthen, PhD, John Price Crozer Griffith Professor Emeritus of Theology, at Colgate Rochester Crozer Divinity School, in his essay "Legalizing Prostitution" on his website (accessed Dec. 3, 2007), wrote:

"The money currently used for enforcement of criminal laws against prostitution should be used [to] help those who are tempted by sex work. Police should be used to direct street prostitutes looking for any way to make money to survive to places where they can be helped. They, of course, should also do what they can to protect everyone from violence, exploitation, and coercion. Many of those who find themselves in desperate circumstances...are damaged personalities, lost souls, who need love, compassion, treatment, guidance, and all the care that [can] be given to salvage precious lives. Here is where our money and concern should be. A larger societal work of prevention and treatment of the personal and social ills that destroy children in their homes and communities is the great need, not more policemen on the streets to harass the human consequences of our neglect and cruelty."

Dec. 3, 2007 - Kenneth Cauthen, PhD 

R.T. Rybak, Mayor of Minneapolis, Minnesota at the time of the statement, was quoted in the May 21, 2007 article "Mayor Rybak, Chief Dolan Support Crack Down on Prostitution," published on the City of Minneapolis, Minnesota website, as having said:

"Prostitution is not welcome in our community...We need everyone — residents and police — to work together to rid this problem from our community. This is a perfect example of the need for residents to trust local police..."

May 21, 2007 - Raymond Thomas (aka R.T.) Rybak 

The Ipswich Labour Party, UK, in its Aug. 4, 2006 article "Results of Ipswich Street Prostitution Survey" on its website, wrote:

"The councillors believe that a sustained and properly funded programme combining tough enforcement, physical deterrence measures and help to get out of prostitution would have a significant effect on reducing the problem of street prostitution in Ipswich. The main elements of such a programme should be:

• Increased high visibility patrols by police and community safety officers...

• More enforcement action to be taken against both prostitutes and kerb crawlers; more and better use of ASBO's [Anti-Social Behavior Order's]; consideration given to 'naming and shaming' kerb crawlers."

Aug. 4, 2006 - Ipswich Labour Party, UK  

CON (no)

Joseph McNamara, DPA, Former Police Chief of Kansas City, Missouri and San Jose, California, in a Jan. 28, 2004 interview "Legalization of Prostitution" hosted by Sakura Saunders on the radio station KDVS in Davis, CA, said:

"Trying to stop it [prostitution] by criminal law has proven to be an enormous failure that has led to corruption, it has led to violence, and it certainly has not lessened prostitution but probably made it much less profitable...

In terms of the philosophy of a free society of America its wrong on that basis and secondly when you look at the pragmatic parts of it, it is unenforceable. And thirdly it's an enormous misuse of scarce police resources where we have women and children in danger from violent serial sex criminals and killers, that is what we should be concentrating on, not how many arrests we can make for prostitution."

Jan. 28, 2004 - Joseph McNamara, DPA 

James Bovard, Policy Advisor to The Future of Freedom Foundation, in the Sep. 1998 Freedom Daily article "The Legalization of Prostitution," wrote:

"Unfortunately, laws against prostitution often bring out the worst among the nation's law-enforcement agencies...

Many police appear to prefer chasing naked women to pursuing dangerous felons. Lt. Bill Young of the Las Vegas Metro Police declared, 'You get up in a penthouse at Caesar's Palace with six naked women frolicking in the room and then say: 'Hey, baby, you're busted!' That's fun'...

National surveys have shown that 94 percent of citizens believe that police do not respond quickly enough to calls for help — and the endless pursuit of prostitution is one factor that slows down many police departments from responding to other victims...

The issue is not whether prostitution is immoral, but whether police suppression of prostitution will make society a safer place. The ultimate question to ask about a crackdown on prostitution is: how many murders are occurring while police are chasing after people who only want to spend a few bucks for a few jollies?...

Vices are not crimes. Despite centuries of attempts to suppress prostitution, the problem continues to flourish — little has changed. Simply because prostitution may, in many people's opinion, be immoral is no reason for police to waste their time in a futile effort to suppress the oldest profession."

Sep. 1998 - James Bovard 

John Ince, Attorney and Leader of the Sex Party, wrote in the 2003 The Politics of Lust that:

"Every year thousands of prostitutes and their customers are arrested, handcuffed, and hauled off to jail. Many will serve years in the penitentiary. Tens of millions of dollars are wasted in undercover operations, trials, and prison time. What a squandering of precious legal resources!"

2003 - John Ince, LLB 

Heidi Fleiss, former madam, wrote in the 2003 Pandering magazine that:

"When it came to investigating me, a 27-year-old girl with no violent criminal record, a task force the size of the National Guard was called out to search and destroy at virtually any cost. I am not complaining about my arrest - what I did was my choice and I accept responsibility for it - but how many violent criminals are ignored because law enforcement priorities are in the wrong order?"

2003 - Heidi Fleiss 

Catherine La Croix, Executive Director and Founder of Call Off Your Old Tired Ethics (COYOTE) chapter in Seattle, is quoted in a Aug. 5, 1995 Seattle COYOYE press release as having said:

"Every citizen should be incensed over the millions of dollars spent every year just to arrest the participants in consensual crimes between assenting adults. Every prostitution arrest, not including jail or court expenses, costs between $2,000 to $2500 and requires at least two or three officers. Most girls are fined $200 and released from an already crowded King County jail. It makes you wonder what the rest of Seattle does for protection while the police roust street workers."

Aug. 5, 1995 - Catherine La Croix