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Deputy Commissioner supports sex establishment rethink

Nottinghamshire’s Deputy Police and Crime Commissioner, Chris Cutland, is urging residents to air their views on sex shops and lap dancing clubs as part of a major review of licensing policy in the City. 

A survey is currently being carried out by Nottinghamshire City Council to gauge whether local residents think sex establishments or sex entertainment venues should be banned, allowed or limited in numbers. Although there is currently no research available to link violence or sexual assaults in Nottinghamshire to the sex entertainment industry, recent studies elsewhere have uncovered a worrying correlation: 

  • In the London Borough of Camden there was a 50% increase in sexual assaults in the borough after the rapid expansion of lap dancing clubs – creating ‘no go’ zones for women in local vicinity.
  • A six month review into the licensing of strip clubs in the London Borough of Tower Hamlets revealed an uneasiness of walking around streets where they were located.
  • Research by Glasgow City Council identified links between the expansion of lap dancing clubs and an increase in the levels of sexual violence.

In addition, research has found that demand for prostitution services has increased in the vicinity of such premises and that women’s fear of crime is much higher in areas where lap dancing venues or sex shops are located.  

Nottinghamshire’s Deputy Police and Crime Commissioner Chris Cutland said the findings in areas such as London and Glasgow give cause for concern and urged residents to take part in the survey to help shape future licensing decisions in the City. 

Deputy Commissioner Cutland, who has championed women’s causes through her work as former executive director of Women’s Aid in Nottinghamshire, said: “The findings of recent studies into the impact of sex establishments and sex entertainment venues on levels violence is worrying and warrants a closer look at the policy in our own city.

“Police officers spend significant time and resources on reducing violence against women and boosting confidence and feelings of safety and there is now evidence that such efforts are being undermined in some areas by the presence of sex entertainment venues.

“Fortunately there have been no recorded incidents of violence or sexual assault in Nottinghamshire which can be directly linked to these venues but is that because their presence in the City is very limited at present? If we relaxed our approach to licensing could we expect to see a detrimental effect on both violent crime figures and feelings of safety? The overall conclusion we can make from the recent studies is that yes we could and that might mean we need to re-evaluate whether it is acceptable to have any sex entertainment venue or sex establishment operating within the City.

“It is everybody’s responsibility to drive down violence against women, not just the police, and those living in Nottinghamshire should consider the impact of normalising women as sexual objects, particularly on impressionable young girls and men. If it is possible that the presence of these premises leads to an increase in domestic abuse, as has been suggested, then this has a devastating effect on children too. 

“I fully back the City Council in its decision to re-examine licensing policy for lap dancing clubs and sex shops. The potential harm of these venues on the safety of women is in my view too serious to ignore and I cannot justify in my mind why they should be welcome when we are working so hard to protect our communities and promote reassurance. I would prefer instead the introduction of a new blanket policy for no sex entertainment venues or sex establishments in the Nottingham City Council boundaries.” 

Currently, there are no restrictions on the number and location of Sexual Entertainment Venues (lap dancing clubs) or Sex Establishments (private shops) in the City. However, under recent legislative changes councils now have greater powers to control the number and location of such venues and premises although legally every licensed premises has the right to provide such entertainment for up to 24-hours 11 times a year without needing a licence. 

Nottingham City currently has one licensed Sexual Entertainment Venue and two licensed Sex Establishments. There have been no recorded offences against women at these venues by police in the City. 

The closing date of the survey is 22 February and people can take part by visiting (http://nottinghamcity.gov.uk/index.aspx?articleid=20303 ). A final policy decision is expected to be made in May 2013. 

Ends 

Media enquiries: Sallie Blair 01283 821012

Posted on Wednesday 13th February 2013
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