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CJS4001-STD-1213: 12/13 Independent Study

Victimless crimes: rightly illegal?

Benjamin Salmon, 3rd Year Police & Criminal Justice

Student No. 0928 6046

Supervisor: Steve Curtis

19th April 2013

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ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS

I wanted to research the world but Steve Curtis suggested

a more concise topic to be more appropriate.

I am particularly grateful to Shelby Allan for her endlessly

patient proof-reading, to Kai Salmon & Duncan Ambrose for

their support in understanding rudimentary philosophy and

finally to Kevin Morrissey who was unafraid to tell me when my

points just didnt make sense.

Additional thanks to the entirety of the staff at

Northamptonshire University who made my University

experience as positive as it has been.

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Abstract

This independent study sets out to provide a critical view of victimless


crimes in the UK, taking the four main examples of prostitution, drug
possession, abortion and homosexuality. This study uses a library based
methodology drawing from data gathered by other studies and notes that
through social change the latter two topics have been legalised in certain
circumstances.

The study goes on to explain the nature of victimless crime and assesses
what it means to be a victim, particularly with respect to cultural aspects
and the "Golden Rule". The arguments are discussed whether drug
possession and prostitution should be legalised from an ethical standpoint
before examining whether they actually could be legalised, drawing both
on international experience and an historical perspective of victimless
crime.

The study concludes that there are circumstances in which changes to the
law might be appropriate taking into account the needs and personal
safety of all the stakeholders involved, including society itself.
Recommendations are also made with respect to the interactions between
these stakeholders.

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Declaration of Authorship

This assessment is my own work. It contains no unreferenced verbatim


extracts from the works of others and it has not (either in whole or in
part), been submitted towards the award of any other qualification either
at University of Northampton or elsewhere.

Name: Benjamin Salmon

Date: 18/04/2013

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Contents

No.1 Chapter Heading Page. No

Chapter 1 Literature Review & Methodology 6

Chapter 2 What is victimless crime? 13

Chapter 3 What is victimisation? 18

Chapter 4.1 Should drug usage be legalised? 24

Chapter 4.2 Should prostitution be legalised? 32

Chapter 5.1 Could drug usage be legalised? 37

Chapter 5.2 Could prostitution be legalised? 46

Chapter 6 Cultural Precedents in Historical 53


Victimless Crime

Chapter 7 Conclusion & Recommendations 59

Chapter 8 Bibliography 62

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Chapter 1: Literature Review & Methodology

The study is a critical review of victimless crime in the UK. The research is

based on the following concept of victimless crime:

Victimless crime is an illegal act that involves consenting adults and


lacks a complaining participant
Schur (1965, p. 171).

Bedau and Schur (1974) considered four main examples of victimless

crime. These were: prostitution, drug possession, abortion and

homosexuality. Some of these topics are sensitive in nature and, although

empirical research methods such as structured interviews or

questionnaires could gather valuable data, there are practical concerns

due to the criminal nature of drug possession and prostitution. For these

reasons this study is library based in nature. However, it does

compensate for a lack of first-hand data by drawing from data gathered

by other studies.

Schur suggested that victimless crime is a by-product of the state

intervening in social norms (Bedau and Schur, 1974). The theory

proposes that legislation adapts to respond to the norms of society at the

time. For example, although it may be argued that few people were hurt

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by homosexuality, the state supported views that it was immoral and this

resulted in homosexual acts being prohibited.

It can be immediately observed that, to an extent, Schurs writing is

out of date as homosexuality and abortion are no longer illegal. However,

this can be seen as a proven strength of the theory since social change

has occurred which advocates its validity as a theory. It may be that the

two offences remaining, i.e. soliciting for prostitution and the supply of

controlled substances, are otherwise prohibited for reasons other than the

ones discussed. This would show that Schurs research was once

extremely valid but that his examples, due to predicted social change, are

now out of date.

A critical examination shows that his work can be criticised from two

perspectives. Firstly, the sociologist Bedau questions the basis on which

Schur can say there is no injured party:

The hurt or injury can be in the form of a physical injury, mental


anguish, or exploitation and degradation of a person
Bedau and Schur (1974, p.62).

Bedau argues that whilst the act of prostitution may be made

consensually, without pressure from pimps, the very act itself degrades

the person committing the act of prostitution, and in this sense they are a

victim. Bedau therefore draws on the practical implications of trying to

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legalise victimless crime without first defining victimisation (Bedau and

Schur, 1974).

The second criticism lies in the reliability of the research. The

theories have come under criticism from the feminist Kruttschnitt (1984)

who, while agreeing with the overall assessment of the extent of female

labelling, disagreed that women who commit crime are more likely to be

labelled as deviant than men who had been prosecuted for the same

crime contradict this, which leads to reliability concerns for the research.

The purpose of this study is to research the victimless crimes that have

not been legalised and to consider the arguments for such legalisation.

The evidence needs to be considered for both its practical and moral

ramifications.

It is unreasonable to evaluate a moral argument along the same

guidelines that you would use to critique an economic policy. The method,

therefore, will vary accordingly to ensure that evidence is critiqued

appropriately.

Evaluating ethics

Firstly, any proposed argument should be judged on clarity. This means

that it must be clear and not misleading. An example could be the

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statement murder is wrong. There are no guidelines to what is actually

meant by murder in this statement. Would this include an abortion or a

soldier killing in war? This study endeavours to improve clarity by using

precise definitions whenever possible.

Additionally, when comparing multiple arguments in perspective to

each other, it is important to consider coherence. Do the theories and

statements clash? Take for example the two statements to kill is always

wrong and convicted murderers should be executed. Clearly the first

statement outlaws the second despite them both stating that murder is

wrong.

Finally, any principle should be judged on comprehensiveness.

How much does the theory explain? Does it improve general

understanding or is it a specific explanation?

Evaluating Practicalities

Whilst clarity, coherence and comprehensiveness are important when

considering more practical concerns, they are not prioritised. The practical

concerns include economic arguments to consider the feasibility of

utilising resources differently. Accordingly, it requires a more quantitative

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approach as the evaluation of resource, without data, can be only

superficial.

Data are raw facts or statistics which can be utilised to form evidence in

order to defend or form conclusions. Evidence is a required product of

analysis to support arguments in debate. The information rarely speaks

for itself. Finally, information is a neutral term to demonstrate knowledge

that can be used to form evidence; this is not to say that the information

itself is unbiased, only that information by itself is not evidence without

evaluation to form an argument or point. This study looks to draw two

types of conclusions from data. Firstly, that there is a correlation/negative

correlation between things. This means that there is a measurable

similarity between two or more things. For example, there might be an

increase in both ice-cream sales and temperature. It might be proposed

that the hot temperature boosts sales. However, this does not

necessarily mean a causal relationship as it is entirely possible for a set of

results to be unaffected by another occurrence, despite similar looking

trends on graphs. It is important therefore to consider whether there is a

statistically significant link which would indicate that the result is unlikely

to have occurred by chance.

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When considering the conclusions of other researchers it is important to

look for reliability and validity. Reliability suggests that the test could be

repeated and would get the same results. Validity means that the test is

related to the topic and that the data produced is therefore valid.

This study draws from many sources, some qualitative others

quantitative. Regrettably, while some bias is likely to be encountered with

research looking to support certain schools of thinking, these

considerations will be evaluated at that stage in the chapter in question.

Additionally, the majority of data used to support conclusions in this

study are provided by the Home Office. Whilst the integrity of such

statistics is likely to be high, there are weaknesses with such data. As

data is published over considerable time, some data for recent years is

not currently available. To best compare trends, this study focuses on a

period between 2004 and 2009 as equivalent data is available for this

period.

References

Bedau, H., Schur, E. (1974) Victimless Crimes: Two sides of controversy.


Englewood Cliffs: Prentice Hall.

Kruttschnitt, C. (1984) Labelling Women Deviant: Gender Stigma, and


Social control. Contemporary Sociology. 13(5), 596.

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Schur, E. (1965) Crimes without victims: deviant behaviour and public
policy: Abortion, homosexuality, drug addiction. Englewood Cliffs:
Prentice Hall.

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Chapter 2: What is victimless crime?

In the UK there is an evident link between crime and deviance. A crime is

a violation of legislature while deviance is a violation of values and

culture. Whilst the first is often associated with the second, there are

clear examples of offences that are culturally accepted. Take, for

example, the offence of quitting, i.e. leaving a motor vehicle unattended

with the engine running, as defined by Section 42 of the Road Traffic Act

(1988). Nobody fined for quitting would be regarded by society as a

deviant, although they could be technically described as a criminal. A

rapist, on the other hand, would be considered a deviant as well as a

criminal, since this is an offence that society as a whole regards as wrong.

Equally, it can be seen that the very process of describing something or

someone as deviant can have implications in itself.

Becker (1963) described the origins of deviance as created by

society and reinforced with the application of labels to people, thus

associating them with predefined characteristics and traits already

associated with that label. For example, a young man who was labelled as

anti-social due to his association with the existing stereotype of an anti-

social youth; he might wear tracksuits and frequently hang around

outside corner shops. Due to the association with the stereotype of anti-

social youth, assumptions might be made that the person also engaged in

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other deviant behaviour also associated with anti-social behaviour, such

as excessive alcohol or drugs consumption.

The consequences for a recipient, in the aftermath of being given a

label, have been studied. Tajfel (1981) suggests that the recipient of a

label identifies with that group. This then creates in-groups and out-

groups. This stems from cognitive theory that people group by difference

and similarities. Tajfels Social Identity Theory explains how in the

aftermath of being given a label, the recipient comes to believe it and

then justifies the label to themselves and to their peers. They will then

identify with that out-group as their in-group, which is one of the reasons

for the development and spread of gang culture. In turn, this leads to the

largest example of in-groups and out-groups in criminal justice, that of

the criminal as not only an out-group, but also an in-group.

Kelling & Wilson (1982) examined the implications of having police

officers on designated foot patrol compared with those in mobile patrol

cars. Whilst, in reality, having a detrimental effect on crime statistics, the

implementation of widespread foot-patrolling officers has brought the

public fear of crime down. However, Kelling & Wilson (1982) also identify

that this fear, on the whole, was not of violent offenders, or even of

criminals generally, but rather of the disreputable, i.e. the socially

deviant, unpredictable and anti-social. The neighbourhood police officer

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was not enforcing the law; rather he was enforcing the neighbourhood

rules by removing the anti-social from the streets. But those who suffer

under such a policy are those who legitimately and legally deviate from

societys rules, the foreign and the different. Kelling & Wilson (1982)

therefore asked: How do we ensure, in short, that the police do not

become the agents of neighbourhood bigotry?

Is there an argument, however, that the role of the police is precisely to

enforce neighbourhood bigotry? Schur (1980) observes that society

maintains laws that serve no practical purpose other than to maintain

social control over the socially deviant. Critiquing Beckers (1963)

labelling theory of deviance, he suggested that society politicised deviant

behaviour and, in the process, was creating victimless crime.

Schurs work has been subject to analysis and criticism. However,

the focus of this has always been on the conclusions he has drawn and

not the evidence he provides. He breaks victimless crime into three key

parts:

1. Illegal: means simply an action prohibited by existing legislation.

2. Consent: referring to informed agreement that the participants

understand the consequences and participate anyway, of their own

free will.

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3. Lacks a complainant: there is no-one involved or present who feels

aggrieved by the circumstances and therefore nobody would be

likely to complain.

Schur highlighted four primary offences which he suggested were

controlled due only to their violation of social norms and not for any

reason benefitting society. These were: prostitution, drug addiction,

abortion and homosexuality. In modern society it should be observed that

two of these offences have now been legalised, possibly in line with the

decline of the church as an institution [see Chapter 8].

With the benefit of time, the validity of Schurs arguments seem

strengthened, as with the rise of social acceptance of abortion and

homosexuality. They were eventually legalised, thus highlighting the link

between criminal behaviour and social castigation of that behaviour.

However, as Bedau (1974) highlighted: can there be crimes which

are victimless without defining victimisation? At the time, this was a

major weakness as in 1974 little study had been conducted in the field of

Victimology. However, evaluation in the second decade of the 21 st century

has the benefit that Schurs suggestions can be critiqued with new data

and fresh evidence.

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References

Becker, H. (1963) Outsiders, Studies in Sociology of Deviance. New York:


Free Press

Bedau, H., Schur, E. (1974) Victimless crimes: Two sides of controversy.


New Jersey: Prentice Hall.

Tajfel, H. (1981) Human Groups & Social Categories. Cambridge:


Cambridge University Press.

Kelling, G. & Wilson, J. (1982) Broken Windows Atlantic magazine. Vol.


249, pp. 29-38.

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Chapter 3: What is victimisation?

Bedau (Bedau and Schur, 1974) asked the question: can victimless

crimes be evaluated without clarity on what victimisation is? More to the

point, does the absence of such criteria suggest that the act should not be

criminalised?

The Oxford Dictionary defines a victim to be:

a person who has come to feel helpless and passive in the face of
misfortune or ill-treatment
(Oxford Dictionary, 2013)

Does to victimise merely mean, to create a victim? Is there a distinction

between the two?

The term the Golden Rule refers to the philosophical concept that people

should act towards others as they would wish to be treated themselves

(Bruton, 2004). Bruton remarks that this rule is embedded in many

cultures, with variations of it contained in most holy texts. Similarities can

be drawn between the absolute nature of the Golden Rule and Absolute

Human Rights which every human unconditionally has (Human Rights Act

1998). Namely, you do not have to qualify for these rights; it should be

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how everyone is treated. The core of victimisation arguably attacks that

very sovereignty of all humans to live peacefully without fear of harm.

The strength of the Golden Rule is in its coherence with many other

schools of ethics and philosophy. Take for example, hedonist or

utilitarianism schools of ethics which suggest that we are governed by

pleasure and pain. It stands to reason that we would like to not be pained

but to gain pleasure; therefore we wouldnt want anyone else to cause us

pain. This highlights the importance of empathy in understanding ethical

arguments. The historical prevalence of the Golden Rule in one form or

another is difficult to contest, with one of the earliest versions found in

the Ten Commandments (Bruton, 2004).

Victimisation can often include physical harm; however, the crux of

victimisation is that it changes the dynamics of the relationship between

the victim and the victimiser McGlynn et al. (2012). McGlynn et al.

suggests that this is the key to restorative justice methods such as

offender-victim mediation. Here, by confronting the offender, the victim

can be empowered to break the bonds that the victimisation created.

A general summary of victimisation incorporating these themes

would be: a negative distortion of the relationship between two people in

violation of the absolute human rights of one or other of the parties to the

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relationship. It can be argued that if the Golden Rule governs all human

interaction then any victimisation is a distortion of this balance of power.

A victim could be anyone who is harmed in some way, so it is possible to

be the victim of an accident. However, victimisation is more specific.

Crucially there has to be some kind of relationship between the victimiser

and victim. In the context of victimless crimes, is it enough for there to be

a victim present? Or does there have to be some form of victimisation?

A common argument against criminalising drug usage is that there are

many other consumables that are not illegal yet which have severe

ramifications for a persons health: smoking and alcohol being obvious

examples (Moore and Measham, 2011). The clear lack of continuity

threatens any suggestion that legislation is rational. The list of ways a

person could harm themselves is endless, from food to heat. It could be

suggested, cynically, that the state is quite happy to let people kill

themselves with tax revenue raising vices, although there are obviously

impacts on NHS costs. However, it is unusual for the state to condone

victimisation; a culture of mutual respect is encouraged even in those as

young as primary school age.

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Do victimless crimes victimise people? Of the four that Schur (Schur and

Bedau, 1971) proposed, the two that have been since legalised do not.

Abortion harms the ftus, but while there is a victim, there is no

relationship of victimisation; or at least not superficially. It is possible that

there is a relationship between the mother and the father, or between the

mother and future grandparent, who coerces the mother to receive the

abortion. Conversely, however, it can be argued that the provision of safe

abortions is actually an empowerment of women as it prevents them from

being forced out of the workplace inopportunely in their career.

Likewise, homosexuality had aspects of cultural victimisation, but that

was mainly the relationship between the state or society and the offender.

The actual acts of homosexually-motivated offences didnt distort the

sacred presence of civility and respect between people. Is it unsurprising

that it was inevitably legalised?

In contrast, however, prostitution arguably does centre on a relationship,

albeit a sexual one. It has been suggested by feminist theorists that the

very nature of sex-work degrades women:

Prostitution is degrading because the relation between the prostitute

and the client is completely impersonal. The client does not even

perceive, let alone treat the prostitute as the person she is; he has

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no interest, no time for any of her personal characteristics, but

relates to her merely as a source of sexual satisfaction, nothing more

than a sex object.

Primoratz (1993, p.172)

This is to say, if the argument summarised by Primoratz is correct, the

basis of the Golden Rule, i.e. the sovereignty of human life, is violated

by prostitution.

Finally, does drug usage distort human relationships? The relationship

between the drug and the user certainly has similarities with human

victimisation, such as harm done and dependence. However, without

personifying chemical substances, is there a relationship of degrading

human value? Watter (2002) describes the prolonged effect of drugs as

degrading, de-humanising and soul-destroying. Watter does also

highlight a commonly made argument that drugs de-humanise people in a

way that alcohol and cigarettes are less prone to do.

It is worthy of note that, of the four examples, the two most damaging to

human stability are the ones that are still illegal. By contrast, the other

two, which have minimal effect, have been legalised. This provides a

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strong precedent to suggest that creating a victim is not enough to cause

something to be banned. However, offences such as prostitution and drug

usage are banned, as they go further and degrade on human dignity.

References

Bedau, H., Schur, E. (1974) Victimless crimes: Two sides of controversy.


Englewood Cliffs: Prentice Hall.

Bruton, S (2004) Teaching the Golden Rule. Journal of Business Ethics.


49 279-187.

Moore, K. and Measham, F. (2011), Impermissible pleasures in UK


leisure: exploring UK policy developments in alcohol and illicit drugs, The
problem of pleasure: leisure, tourism and crime. 1 (1) 62-76.

Primoratz, I. (1993) whats wrong with prostitution? The Royal Institute of


Philosophy. 68 (264) 159-182

Oxford Dictionary. (2013) Victim. Available from:


http://oxforddictionaries.com/definition/english/victim [accessed 18th
April 2013]

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Chapter 4.1: The argument for legalising controlled drugs and

prostitution.

When investigating the feasibility of legalising currently prohibited

services and substances, there are two major questions to ask. Firstly,

should victimless crime be legalised, bearing in mind that this is an

ethical distinction? Secondly could victimless crime be legalised? This is a

question of the feasibility of such a proposal, looking at practical, political

and economic factors.

There is some dispute over whether or not drug addicts are, in fact,

victims. This is an important distinguishing label as Johnson (1992)

acknowledges that any responsible government has a duty to protect its

citizens. The government has the power to legislate a prohibition of any

substance, including controlled drugs. However, if drug usage victimises

citizens [see Chapter 3], does a responsible government then have an

obligation to outlaw it?

Different schools of ethics are derived from different moral principles. In

evaluating the moral implications of drug consumption, some schools of

ethics are more appropriate than others. An ethical evaluation must

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consider both the happiness derived from drug use, and the associated

risks. Feldman (2004) proposes a default hedonist argument to be that:

The intrinsic value of a life is entirely determined by the intrinsic


values of the episodes of pleasure and pain contained in that life; in
such a way that one life is intrinsically better than another if and only
if the net amount of pleasure in the one is greater than the net
amount of pleasure in the other.
Feldman (2004, p. 27)

Feldman (2004) expands upon this to suggest that pleasure and pain can

be objectively measured according to intensity and duration. This

consideration can be applied to drugs in order to determine whether a

substance adds value to a life. Taking alcohol, a widely researched and

legal intoxicant, as an example, the pleasure gained is the experience of

increased confidence and resistance to cold. However, the consumption of

excess alcohol can result in a painful experience known as a hangover

(Hesse and Tutenges, 2010), and long-term excess use can lead to liver

damage and alcoholism (WHO, 2011). The existence of a hangover is no

secret, so for someone to consensually drink to excess demonstrates a

conscious decision to enjoy the immediate pleasures and endure the

immediate pains. For someone to drink repeatedly, and to excess,

demonstrates an enduring belief that the pleasures will always outweigh

the pains. Simplistically, therefore, there is an argument that the value of

a persons life has improved with the presence of alcohol in it, because if

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this were not the case the pains would outweigh the pleasures and the

individual would not drink alcohol, or at least not more than once.

The same argument can be applied to drug consumption. The

strength of the argument is that it is adaptable; the argument that

pleasure is measurable and can be objectively measured does not claim

that any specific occurrence is pleasurable. This allows the argument to

take into consideration human variation: after all, what one person may

find pleasurable may not be the same for another. However, despite such

coherence with other theories, the logical claim, the theory is not without

criticism. That the decision to do something repeatedly demonstrates that

the pleasure outweighs the pain, is reliant on the presence of free will.

Consent can only exist if the decision to act was made freely. In the

context of drug consumption the presence of consent is called into

question.

The World Health Organisations International Classification of diseases

defines dependence syndrome (addiction) as:

A cluster of behavioural, cognitive, and physiological phenomena


that develop after repeated substance use and that typically include
a strong desire to take the drug, difficulties in controlling its use,
persisting in its use despite harmful consequences, a higher priority
given to drug use than to other activities and obligations, increased
tolerance, and sometimes a physical withdrawal state.

World Health Organisation, (2010, F19).

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If someones life revolves around the partaking of an addictive substance,

does the person make a truly voluntary decision to take it each day? The

nature of many drugs is that they are addictive (Ghodse, 2002). This

comprehensive consideration does much to bring any hedonist

justification of drugs into dispute, as what may have once been choice

becomes forced.

The hedonist argument is still applicable, but now it must compare

all the pleasure gained, in a lifetime, to the pain also suffered in the same

lifetime. Initially the experience may be deemed worthwhile, but if that

experience leads to destitution, health failure and an early death, does

the partaking of such a substance continue to receive an ethical mandate?

Take, for example, two individuals, John and Mark. They are at a

party and both choose to take cocaine. At the time both men had taken

the drug before and chose to do it again. Both got intense happiness and

pleasure from the experience for roughly the same length of time. Two

weeks after the party John is killed in an unrelated car accident. In

contrast, Mark regularly takes cocaine for the next thirty years and in that

time he escalates onto crack cocaine and a result suffers from respiratory

problems for many years before eventually dying from resulting heart

disease. Near the time of death, Mark expresses sincere regret for his

cocaine addiction and believes that it was not worth it. In these cases, a

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hedonist explanation would suggest that taking cocaine enriched Johns

life but it did not improve Marks. However, the benefit is only measurable

at the time of death, which highlights the weakness of hedonist values.

After all, it is too late to ban the substance at the time of death.

It is logical, though to a certain extent simplistic, to assert that if

the pleasures of a particular action outweigh the pains, then it is

beneficial; however, the difficulty lies in measuring objectively the impact

it would have for that persons lifetime. As policy makers have a

responsibility for the community as a whole, hedonist arguments are

difficult to implement in practice since a risk assessment and prohibition

based on individual circumstance is not feasible. However, it can be

observed that there is a precedent of circumstance-based prohibition in

the sale of alcohol and cigarettes since children are unable to buy them.

Section 7 of the Children and Young Persons Act 1933 prohibits the sale

of tobacco to children. Could this be because it is considered that children

are unable to fully understand the implications of making a decision to

smoke?

Home Office literature suggests that there are severe cons and pains

attributed to drug consumption. The Home Office Drug Strategy 2010

(Home Office, 2010) outlines Teresa Mays (Home Secretary) vision as:

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Tackling drugs and addressing alcohol dependence, both of which are
key cause of societal harm, including crime, family breakdown and
poverty. Together, they cause misery and pain to individuals, destroy
families and undermine communities. Such suffering cannot be
allowed to go unchecked.
Home Office (2010, pp.2)

The Home Secretary, a key policy maker, is not claiming that there is no

pleasure to be gained from drug usage; rather that the vision is very

much that the pain (crime, family breakdown and poverty) outweighs the

pleasure. It is important to note that the emphasis of such a vision is on

the community as a whole. Note also the usage of the term societal

harm; this suggests that the evaluation of pros to cons is determined as

the overall impact on society as a whole. While hedonism recognises such

concepts, it focuses primarily on the individual. Consider the general

definition proposed by Feldman (2002): this definition revolves around

one life and not life as a collective. It is, therefore, appropriate to

compare a hedonist view of drug usage to that of utilitarianism.

It is apt to consider a utilitarian perspective when considering a risk

assessment of pleasure to pain, but in a community context. A utilitarian

perspective of ethics also uses the conceptual comparison of pleasure and

pain; however, it compares them for community and not individual

interest, Mills (1789). This makes the ethical argument considerably more

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credible in context of community values. Mills (1789) defines community

interest as a:

Fictitious body composed of the individual persons who are


considered as constituting as it were its members. The interest of the
community then is, what? The sum of the interests of the several
members who compose it
Mills (1789, pp.35).

Shaw (1999) notes that utilitarianism also acknowledges that the sources

of human happiness (pleasure) are both variable and culturally and

individually different. He goes on to suggest that the consequence of this

is that a varying moral standard can exist; the judge is society itself.

If society is the arbitrator in utilitarian ethics, how do societys

decisions become practice? The principle of parliamentary democracy

supports the removal of sovereignty from the individual; it is then granted

conditionally to an elected representative. In this case, the decision of an

elected policy maker is, in a legal and ethical sense, law. However, the

very act of committing crime demonstrates disagreement with that policy.

If society as a whole disagrees, the politician loses his/her ethical

mandate and, usually soon after, their legal one, when they are voted out

of office.

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References

Feldman, F. (2004) Pleasure and the good life, Oxford: Oxford University
Press

Ghodse, H. (2010) Drugs and Addictive Behaviour, Cambridge:


Cambridge University Press.

Hesse, M. Tutenges, S. (2010) Predictors of hangover during a week of


heavy drinking on holiday. Addiction 105 (3) 476-478.

Home Office (2010) Drug Strategy 2010 reducing demand restricting


supply, building recovery: supporting people to live a drug free life.
London: Crown.

Johnson, N. (1992) Political Consequences of PR: the British idea of


responsible government. London: Centre of Policy Studies

Mill, J. (1962) Utilitarianism. Glasgow: William Collins sons and co ltd.


Shaw, W. (1999) Contemporary ethics, taking account of utilitarianism,
Oxford: Blackwell publishers ltd.

World Health Organisation. (1992). ICD-10 Classifications of Mental and


Behavioural Disorder: Clinical Descriptions and Diagnostic Guidelines.
Geneva: World Health Organisation.

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Chapter 4.2: Should prostitution be legalised?

There are similarities between prostitution and drug consumption: either

prohibited or controlled activities, both are, arguably, victimless crimes

and both provide a certain amount of pleasure. An ethical debate,

however, must consider the distinguishing differences between the two.

While considerable effort goes into stopping the supply of drugs,

dealing is seen as much more serious, vast resources are spent in

rehabilitating the drug-users, i.e. the focus is on the consumer rather

than the provider. Consider prostitution, however. The majority of

initiatives to combat sex-working rehabilitate the sex-worker not the

client. While there has been a growing movement to educate the Johns

(the sex-workers clients) the majority of rehabilitative schemes still

target the supplier (Gentile, 2009). It is therefore apt to consider the

service ethically from perspective of the provider rather than the

consumer. It can also be noted that the impact of legalisation would

impact the prostitute herself/himself much more than it would the client.

The two arguments against prostitution can be usually summarised as;

prostitution encourages considerable abuse to sex-workers themselves

and prostitution is immoral.

32
It is a sad fact that sex slavery still exists in the 21st century. Between

April 2009 and December 2010, 540 persons who had been trafficked for

the purpose of sexual exploitation were detected (United Nations, 2012).

A prostitute is defined as:

a person who, on at least one occasion and whether or not compelled


to do so, offers or provides sexual services to another person in
return for payment or a promise of payment to A or a third person;
"prostitution" is to be interpreted accordingly.
(Sexual Offences Act 2003)

While some prostitutes are pimped and suffer severe abuses as a

consequence of their line of work, it should be clear that this is not the

motive behind arguments in favour of legalising the work. The

implications of a persons lifestyle are discussed in Chapter 5.2. However,

is there a sound moral concern for the act of providing sexual services to

another person in return for payment?

Historically, morality was the arguable prerogative of the Christian

Church, at least in England. The Bible does discuss prostitution, consider:

33
Flee from sexual immorality. All other sins a man commits are
outside his body, but he who sins sexually sins against his own body.
19Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who
is in you, [when you're saved] whom you have received from God?
You are not your own; 20 you were bought at a price. Therefore
honour God with your body
Corinthians, (1973, 6:18-20).

Specifically the reference to being bought clarifies that providing a

sexual service for payment is, according the bible morally wrong. The

extent that the bible influences current definitions of morality in the 21 st

century can be argued. However, if morality is simply what is right or

wrong, can an act become wrong over time or is what is changing simply

the values acceptable at the time?

From a non-religious context, what is morally wrong about

prostitution? There is an argument that selling yourself is degrading

(Primoratz, 1993). However, there is little distinction between selling your

body as an actor and selling your body as a prostitute. Equally, whilst

prostitution has a certain intimacy to it, since the prostitute is allowing a

person access to his/her most private parts of the body, other industries

have very sensitive requirements too. Take, for example, a doctor, who in

some cases will be required to examine the genitalia of a patient. This is

not, of course, considered socially wrong.

34
A convincing distinction is that it is not the exposure of the genitalia

itself that has meaning. Rather, it is the meaning behind the act of sexual

intercourse itself that has significance. Therefore, by that explanation,

when a person hires a prostitute, he is not renting the use of her body,

but rather is buying that significance gained via intercourse. This

significance can vary widely since different meanings, ranging from love

to dominance, have been associated with sexual intercourse.

A major criticism of the significance argument is the culture of

promiscuity in the UK. It is difficult to suggest meaning is present in

intercourse resulting from a one night stand. Evidently, the meaning

associated with intercourse is up to the individuals involved; therefore, if

the prostitute chooses to consider her intercourse as simply a

meaningless usage of her body, then there is no distinction between this

usage of her body and that of an actor or sportswoman. However, it can

be observed that Johns have been known to practise, aggressive sexual

practices. Whether the clients emotional input is enough to challenge the

prostitutes own emotional experience is a distinction that the prostitute

can only make for themselves.

35
References

Corinthians (1973), Holy Bible: New International Version. Michigan:


Zondervan Bible Publishers.

Gentile, A. (2009) Teaching old Johns no new tricks. American City &
County. 124 (11), 18-18

Sexual Offences Act 2003. London: HMSO

United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime. (2012) Country Profiles:


Europe and Central Asia. New York: United Nations Publications.

36
Chapter 5.1: Could Controlled Drugs be legalised?

Recreational drug use is as old as humanity, and has not been


stopped by the most draconian laws
Wilson, (2009, p.32).

The proposal is a simple one: drug usage is unpreventable. It is therefore

inappropriate to spent resources in futility.

This is a simplistic suggestion as it doesnt take into account that

those resources may be having a considerable impact upon drug

consumption. Just because something cannot be removed entirely doesnt

mean it is pointless to combat it in part. In order to suggest that the

resources are being spent badly, it should be evidenced that the money is

not having a significant impact. Value for money can be defined as:

A utility derived from every purchase or


every sum of money spent. Value for money is based not only on
the minimum purchase price (economy) but also on
the maximum efficiency and effectiveness of the purchase
Business Dictionary (2012, line 10).

It is not enough, therefore, for a marginal impact to be made, but rather

the impact must be proportionate to the sum of the resources expended.

37
This study therefore considers the following hypothesis: expenditure from

the Home Office in enforcing the illegality of controlled drugs produces a

reduction in drug usage that can be considered to be achieving value for

money.

Measurements of progress:

Re-Offending statistics: if enforcing the illegality of drugs is

effective, it would be marked by a low amount of re-offending. This

would suggest that the process of criminalising someone for

offending discourages re-offending.

An increase in street value: if supply decreases this is usually

accompanied by a sharp increase in street value (Degenhardt,

2005).

Seizures of drugs proportionately significant to the estimated

amount of illegal drugs estimated to be imported or produced in the

UK.

The 2009 Home Office Budget spent 322.8 million on a cutting drug

crime strategy (Home Office, 2011). That year the re-offending rate for

drug-related offences stood at 54.7% with an average number of re-

offences at 2.1. A plausible explanation for this is that a considerable

38
number of crimes are not reported: this is described as the dark figure of

crime (Hammersley, 2011). Once an offender has been arrested and they

have surrendered DNA and fingerprints, they are more likely to be caught

again, if they recommit, as they are known to police already. In

summary, an offender is more likely to be caught again, once he has been

caught initially. As re-offending statistics are a measure of offenders

being caught repeatedly, it is not surprising that re-offending statistics

are so high.

Does the dark figure of crime represent enough of a distortion to

threaten the validity of re-offending statistics? It is nearly impossible to

counteract the absence of all data, clearly the only option is to scrutinise

data and work to maintain as high a validity of research as possible.

Re-offending rates have decreased since 2004 (Home Office, 2011). This

suggests that, if budgetary expenditure remains constant, then efficiency

is increasing. However, the number of offenders has increased, between

2004 and 2009, from 20,652 to 53,109 or by over 150% (Home Office,

2011). To compare, the population of the UK increased from 59.6 million,

in 2004, to 61.595 million in 2009 (National Statistics, 2010). If rates

remained constant, an increase of drug users of 2.5% would be expected.

Evidently an increase in population is not a valid explanation for such an

increase in offences.

39
Heroin and cocaine is prioritised by the UK Government as the greatest

risk (TDPF, 2009). During the 2005-2008 periods European street prices

of heroin inflated, in correlation with the wholesale price in Turkey (United

Nations 2010). The United Nations World Drug Report suggests that

Turkey was a major supplier of heroin to continental Europe, therefore

when seizures in Turkey dramatically increased, supply was reduced. The

UK, however, differed from the rest of the continental Europe in that

heroin prices maintained a stable price. This was believed to be the result

of additional trafficking routes into the UK (United Nations 2010).

When compared with seizure statistics, it can be observed that

heroin seizures increased from 1087 kg of heroin seized in 2006, to 1681

kg in 2008 (United Nations, 2010), or an increase of 54%. Such a

considerable increase in seizures without a significant increase in street

price suggests that supply was not unduly affected. This is supported by

the No. 10 Strategy Unit Drugs Project (2003) which predicts that,

despite initiatives, supply of heroin and cocaine cannot be realistically

stopped:

Over the past 10-15 years, despite interventions at every point in


the supply chain, cocaine and heroin consumption has been rising,
prices falling and drugs have continued to reach users. Government
interventions against the drug business are a cost of business,
rather than a substantive threat to the industry's viability.
Prime Ministers Strategy Unit (2003, p.94).

40
Additionally, cocaine prices have also maintained a steady price with very

little variation between wholesale prices per gram from 2002 to 2008

(United Nations, 2010). The same report does suggest more variation in

street prices, which fell steadily from 2002 to 2005, with a sharp increase

for 2006. However, post 2006 prices have fallen again, reaching a total

reduction in price in 2008 compared to 2002.

In summary, heroin and cocaine prices have fallen or stayed the same,

suggesting no overall reduction in supply. In conjunction with increased

seizures during the same period, the likely explanation is that overall

supply into the UK has increased so much that a sharp increase in

seizures doesnt proportionally damage overall supply.

In the light of such evidence, the only justification for maintaining current

enforcement policies for misuse of drugs can be that without these

measures there would be a drastic increase in offences committed.

Current statistics do not support a claim that current anti-drug strategy is

effective. To argue against a de-criminalisation of drugs, it would have to

be shown that the rate of consumption would be increased so much that

current statistics are actually preferable.

41
The only way that such a scenario can be predicted is to examine

the precedent of another country which has done exactly that. However,

care should be emphasised to maintain validity as much as possible by

using a precedent with similar cultural circumstances.

In 1997 internal opinion polls rated drug use as Portugals biggest

national social problem. Twelve years after personal use was de-

criminalised, drug use has fallen to the countrys 13th biggest problem by

the same polls (The Economist, 2013). The emphasis was on de-

criminalising drug use but not on legalising it. The focus was still upon

helping people overcome addiction, but by using soft sanctions such as

rehabilitation rather than arresting users for the personal use of drugs.

The experiment was a resounding success, with Portuguese drug rates

reduced to one of the lowest in Europe (Greenwald, 2009). According to

the Institute of Drugs and Drug Addiction of Portugal, the number of

individuals positively tested has decreased from 318 in 2000 to 216 in

2006.

It can be observed that 0.9% of Portugals population used cocaine,

compared to a 6.1% in the UK from 2001 to 2005 (Greenwald, 2009). It

should be noted that at this time the UK had the highest rate of cocaine

use in Europe.

42
Analysis of Portuguese spending allows a comparison to be drawn: the

2008 Prisons General Directorate year-end expenditure report amounted

to 208,271,234, and of this 50,526,601 was calculated to be directly

related to drug-related crime (Institute for Drugs and Addiction, 2009).

In 2008, 108 rehabilitative projects received funding of 987,367,556. In

return, the National Report concludes that the number of problematic

drug users in Portugal has shown a decline, and this is especially the case

for injecting drug users from 2000-2005 (Institute for Drugs and

Addiction, 2009). In the UK the National Treatment Agency for Substance

Misuse (NTA) oversees rehabilitative measures at a strategic level, and

was allocated 108,392,585 to provide rehabilitative measures to

prisoners for 2012 (Department of Health, 2013).

UK policy makers can learn from their European cousins and current

research into emulating Portuguese drug policy should be expanded upon

with real consideration to how it could be implemented in the UK.

However, there have been political complications, following advisement to

legalise cannabis Head of the Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs

Professor David Nutt was sacked (BBC, 2009). Are politicians now experts

on medical implications of drugs? Should politicians be firing experts due

to not liking their recommendations? In defence of Gordon Brown, the

43
Prime Minister at the time, such a decision demonstrates accountability to

societal norms, which are arguably more important in legislative decisions

than ethics, economics or scientific reason.

References

Anon (2013) Towards a ceasefire; winding down the war on drugs. The
Economist, 406 (8824) 57-57.

BBC, (2009) Cannabis row drugs advisor sacked [online]. Available from:
http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk/8334774.stm. [Accessed date:
17/04/2013].

Business Dictionary. (2013) Value for Money [online]. Available from:


http://www.businessdictionary.com/definition/value-for-money-VFM.html
[Accessed date: 17/04/2013].

Degenhardt, L. and Day, C. et. al. (2005) The impact of a reduction in


drug supply on demand for and compliance with treatment for drug
dependence. Drug and Alcohol Dependance. 79 (2), 129-135.

Department of Health (2011) Funding for 2011/12 substance misuse


services in prisons. London: Crown

Greenwald, G. (2009). Drug decriminalization in Portugal. Washington:


Cato Institute.

Hammersley, R. (2011) Pathways through drugs and crime: desistance,


trauma and resilience. Journal of Criminal Justice, 39 (3), 268-272.
Home Office. (2011) Proven Re-offending statistics quarterly bulletin.
London: The Stationery Office.

Institution on Drugs and Drugs Addiction (2009) PORTUGAL New


development, trends and in-depth information on selected issues. Lisbon:
IDT.

Office for National Statistics (2010) 2009 Census. London: Crown

44
Prime Ministers Strategy Unit (2003) No 10 Strategy Unit Drugs Project:
Phase 1 Report: Understanding the Issues. London: Crown.
Transform Drug Policy Foundation (2009) A comparison of the cost-
effectiveness of prohibition and regulation of drugs. Bristol: Transform
Drug Policy Foundation.

United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (2010) World Drug Report
2010. New York: United Nations Publications.
Wilson, C. (2009) Legalise Drugs. New Scientist, 203 (2725) 32-33.

45
Chapter 5.2: Could prostitution be legalised?

Currently, it is not an offence to pay for sexual services in the UK.

However, it is an offence to solicit sexual services, curb crawl, own or run

a brothel, or be involved in pimping in any other way (Sexual Offences

Act 2003). It is however legal to arrange privately to meet with someone

whom you plan to engage in intercourse for financial reward.

It was suggested that demand for sex workers would always ensure that

supply exists; therefore the focus should be on how to protect those

involved in the industry (Gray, 2007).

The Dutch Government legalised prostitution in 2000, the theory being to

bring security to sex workers by providing work permits, health checks

and a state funded union (Bindel, 2013). However, the attempts to

regulate the industry seem to have failed, with more trafficking, money

laundering and other hallmarks of organised crime (Siegel, 2009). In

Chapter 4, this study proposes that legalising sex-work should be done

with full respect to current consent legislation. Rape of a prostitute is as

much an offence as rape of anyone else. Siegel (2009), however,

suggests that when sex-working was legalised in the Netherlands, it

increased opportunities for organised crime groups to traffic young

46
women for the sex trade. Clearly, there is a difference between, as Siegel

puts it, voluntary prostitution and human trafficking.

Demographically, of the approximately 25,000 sex-workers in

Amsterdam; 20% worked in window prostitution, 25% in sex clubs, 49%

in escort and home prostitution and 1% in street prostitution (Gemeente,

2006). In comparison, the United Kingdom hosts an estimated 80,000

prostitutes. Of all prostitutes in the UK, 28% are estimated to work in

street prostitution, while the other 72% work in indoor establishments as

escorts (Church, 2001). There is evidence that street-based prostitution is

significantly more dangerous, Church et. al. (2001) suggested that 81%

of street-based sex workers had experienced violence from clients, while

only 48% of indoor-based workers had experienced violence.

Additionally, rates of heroin usage for street sex-workers have been

reported to be much higher than equivalent indoor-based sex workers

(Home Office, 2004).

While the legalisation of sex-work in Amsterdam had severe

repercussions, the equally severe cut in street prostitution is a strong

argument for the damage limitation effects of legalising sex-work.

47
Home Office research highlighted the difficulty in statistically evaluating

the extent of prostitution. Home Office policy focused on reducing

demand, which makes prostitution less lucrative (Home Office, 2009). The

report emphasised the difficulty in measuring a reduction of demand as

there was no way to ensure that sex-working was not displaced rather

than prevented. The precedent in Sweden, where demand was

aggressively criminalised, did seem to create a reduction in demand;

however it coincided with a decrease of working conditions and

transference from street prostitution to indoor sex-working (Home Office,

2009).

Can sex-work be stopped? On an individual basis there is evidence that

sex-workers can be rehabilitated (Home Office, 2004). However, can the

trade be removed entirely? If it mysteriously vanished overnight, would

that be desirable? From December 2012 to February 2013 there has been

an increase of 70,000 unemployed persons in the UK (National Statistics,

2013). If approximately 80,000 prostitutes couldnt support themselves

and were joining the job market, would this be beneficial? Without

suggesting that the state should expect part of the workforce to be reliant

on sex-work for subsistence, zero tolerance policing of sex-work is

arguably not the answer. Accordingly, policy should focus on damage

limitation, with a view to making prostitution as safe as possible for the

duration of the period when the prostitute is sex-working.

48
Three risks frequently reported for sex-workers are: health based,

sexually transmitted diseases, including HIV and AIDs, and spread via

shared needles and sexual intercourse; drug risk, severe reported health

risks stemming from crack cocaine and heroin; and assault, from both

pimps and clients.

The distinction between street-working and indoor escorting has already

been emphasised. If someone is going to be sex-working, it is much

better for them to be off the streets since, as observed, the risks of class

A drugs and assault are considerably reduced when a sex-worker is off

the streets. The Netherlands strategy of legalising the trade, to the point

of encouraging with government funding, did reduce street working to a

very low 1% (Gemeente, 2006). However, this was accompanied by

deterioration in working conditions, trafficking and an increased

involvement of organised crime groups (Siegel, 2009). The Swedish zero

tolerance of demand drove sex-working indoors, but by doing so reduced

working conditions for indoor sex-workers (Home Office, 2009). Is it likely

that more aggressive Johns tend to frequent the streets by preference?

Did the Swedish zero tolerance drive these violent Johns towards indoor

sex-workers?

49
How can UK policy makers dramatically reduce street-working in favour of

temporary indoor sex-working, ideally as a temporary solution before

alternative employment was found? Demographically, street sex-workers

are often very different to escorts; unsurprisingly homelessness is

considerably more likely for street sex-workers (Duff, 2011). Duff also

notes that clients are more likely to refuse to wear a condom on the

street, which he suggests explains the prevalence of AIDS and other

sexually transmitted diseases on the streets. Additionally, statistics (Duff,

2011) demonstrate that a larger proportion of housed prostitutes, as

opposed to homeless ones, were Caucasian, with more ethnic minority

prostitutes living on the streets.

In conclusion, given that prostitution is unlikely ever to disappear,

prostitutes need to be supported. Simply criminalising prostitution merely

harms relations between community police and sex workers. By legalising

it, a massively increased demand may result as sex-tourists flock to the

location, as was seen by the Amsterdam precedent. The best policy,

therefore, is to de-criminalise prostitution and strive to build with the sex-

working population both good relations with and trust in the police. This is

actually the policy in the UK as prostitution, where carried out privately

and without public solicitation, is legal.

50
Considerations from Chapter 4 suggest that, from an ethics perspective,

people have the right to choose how they value their bodies. Therefore,

the balance needs to be to what extent the state intervenes to protect the

health of sex workers and their human rights. By criminalising solicitation,

street prostitution should be driven indoors, which is good. However, this

hasnt happened to the extent that would be desirable. Zero tolerance on

public solicitation could replace the lax street policy many police forces

employ today. However, this will drive many of the dangerous clients and

pimps indoors, as seen in the Swedish precedent. For a zero tolerance

policy to be successful, the police must have the prostitutes trust so that

any aggressive abuse of legal prostitutes (private ones) is reported.

Perhaps these links could be built by PCSOs and other community

officers, working in conjunction with vice squads, which could focus on

zero tolerance.

References

Bindel, J. (2013) Why even Amsterdam doesnt want legal brothels.


London: The Spectator

Church, S., Henderson, M., Barnard, M. and Hart, G (2001) Violence by


clients towards female prostitutes in different work settings:
questionnaire survey. Gender & Society, 17 (6) 923-37

Duff, P. et. al. (2011) Homelessness among a cohort of women in street-


based sex work: the need for safer environmental interventions

Gray, J. (2007) Open the debate on safety. Nursing Standard 21 (17) 1-1
Home Office (2004) Paying the price: a consultation paper on prostitution.
London: Crown

51
Home Office (2009) Tackling the demand for prostitution a rapid evidence
assessment of the published research literature. London: Crown
National Statistics (2013) Labour Market Statistics, April 2013. London:
Crown.

Siegel, D. (2009) Human Trafficking and legalised prostitution in the


Netherlands. Temida 12 (1) 5-16

52
Chapter 6: Cultural Precedents in Historical Victimless Crime

Schur (1974) stated that victimless crime was a by-product of society

politicising deviance. Deviance is a failing to conform to the norms of

society. A process begins to emerge; society creates social norms, i.e.

rules which are expected to be followed by everyone who is part of that

society. When someone fails to abide by those rules, society initially

applies soft power, ostracising them from groups and attempting to

persuade these people to follow norms. Failure to do so, even when such

sanctions have been applied, provokes an escalation from soft to hard

power. The individuals already labelled as deviant become branded as

criminal. The politicians and policy makers conform to majority opinion,

condemning the behaviour, and the police as agents of the law step in to

force the rule-breakers to abide by societys norms.

To provide evidence to such a proposal it is important to look at historical

precedents. Schur, who stated that victimless crime was derived from

politicised deviance, suggested four main occurrences of victimless crime.

Two, prostitution and drug possession are still controlled today. Two,

however, are no-longer prohibited. What is the difference between

abortion and homosexuality, which are now legalised, and drug

possession and prostitution?

53
A similarity between both homosexuality and abortion is that they are

both fiercely opposed by the Catholic Church and, to a lesser extent,

Church of England groups. Becker (1963) proposed that violation of

societys norms created deviance. If the church was a major contributor

to societys norms, is it likely that the decline of the churchs influence is,

in part, responsible for a change in legislation to legalise abortion and

homosexuality?

Globalisation has given people greater ability to travel from their places of

birth. This has allowed, in a cultural sense, citizens to pick and choose

which norms they wish to adopt and which they would rather ignore.

Historically, a person was bound to where they were born and lived.

However, with relatively cheap international transport, people can

commute for a service. In 1971, the Ulster Pregnancy Advisory

Association (UPAA) was formed as a charitable body that would aid

Northern Irish women to travel to England to receive an abortion.

Compton and Goldstrom et. al. (1974) described increasing cases of

women outsourcing abortions to England as they were prohibited in

Northern Ireland. Their study suggested that the majority of Protestant

women were referred, to UPAA, by their doctors. By contrast, a minority

of Catholic women were referred via doctors and mostly relied upon

informal networks of friends.

54
The study concluded:

The incidence of abortion among Roman Catholics seems to be


remarkably high considering the attitude of the Roman Catholic
Church and it looks as though it will rise still further in both relative
and absolute terms.
Compton & Goldstrom et. al. (1974, p.500)

It is not a precedent confined to Ireland; legislators in Argentina have had

any attempts to legislate legal abortions fiercely blocked by the Roman

Catholic Church (Bertomeu 2009). Bertomeu (2009) highlights the

discriminative nature of such legislation on not only a gender basis but

also on a class perspective. As in the example of Northern Ireland,

middle-class pregnant women have the resources to travel abroad to

receive an abortion whereas most working-class women lack the capital

required to do so. It could be argued that such attempts to control

norms, in a globalised world, are ineffective as people can commute for

the service they want. Is this a lesson that can be applied to that

victimless crime still prohibited today?

Abortion was legalised by the Abortion Act 1964. This was part of Home

Secretary Roy Jenkins civilised society ethos. Similarities can be drawn

between the legalisation of both abortion and homosexuality. Both were

proposed as Private Members Bills by David Steel and Leo Abse

55
respectively. David Steel claims to have been motivated by the class

difference; it was abhorrent to him that richer women could afford a safe

but still illegal abortion, while poorer women risked death from an

unhygienic or incomplete abortion (New Statesman, 2007). Steels bill

was supported by Home Secretary Roy Jenkins, despite the failure of six

previous Private-Member Bills to reform abortion legislation (New

Statesman 2007). It is a similar story with homosexuality. Leo Abse, with

the support of Lord Arran, proposed the Sexual Offences Bill 1966. The

main driving force behind such a bill was the Wolfenden Report 1957

which recommended that homosexual behaviour should be legalised

(Davidson, 2004). On the basis of the Wolfenden Report, the Sexual

Offences Bill was passed which legalised homosexual acts under stringent

conditions. If the Wolfenden Report led to legislative change, what was

the catalyst that instigated the report?

Prior to 1957 several prominent members of society, including Peter

Wildeblood, Lord Montagu and Michael Pitt-Rivers (all of whom were well-

respected landowners), were arrested and imprisoned for varying counts

of buggery. Houlbrook and Waters (2006) suggest that whilst it was

acceptable to create a homosexual underclass, it was different for

members of high society. They suggest:

Freudian scenarios are offered as explanations and partial


justifications of the behaviour and desire of the respectable, middle-
class homosexual, but that the effeminate or working-class queer

56
was largely immune from convincing psychological explanations of
his condition
Houlbrook and Waters (2006, p. 159-160).

In other words, the actions of a middleclass homosexual can be justified,

if not condoned, while a working-class homosexual should be criminalised.

Is it surprising, then, that the report was commissioned in the aftermath

of prominent middle and upper-class citizens being arrested for it?

It can be observed that the solicitation of prostitution is illegal. However,

agencies that work privately, and generally cater for a more affluent

client, operate legally in the UK. It could be sceptically suggested that,

even today, a class barrier exists between working-class prostitution and

the middle-class escorts.

References

Anon (2007) Change the law to make early abortion easier. New
Statesman (1996). 136 (4869) 4-4

Becker, H. (1963) Outsiders, Studies in Sociology of Deviance. New York:


Free Press

Houlbrook, M., Waters, C (2006) Heart in Exile: Detachment and Desire in


1950s London. Hist Workshop 62 (1) 142-165.

Bedau, H., Schur, E. (1974) Victimless Crimes: Two sides of controversy.


Englewood Cliffs: Prentice Hall.

Bertomeu, M. (2009) Bioethics, globalisation and politics. International


Journal of feminist approaches to bioethics. 2 (1) 33-51.

57
Compton, P., Goldstrom, L. et al. (1974) Religion and Legal Abortion in
Northern Ireland. Journal of Biosocial Science. 6 (4) 493-500.

Davidson, R (2004) The sexual state: sexuality and Scottish governance


1950-1980. Journal of the History of Sexuality. 13 (4) 500-521.

58
Chapter 7: Conclusions and Recommendations

The study looked to evaluate the role victimless crime had in the 21st

century, within the UK. A criticism of the study is that some chapters

delve into specific topics in insufficient depth to make a conclusive

judgement on that topic. It should be emphasised that the function of

considering such topics was to further expand on the crux of the study,

namely the extent of cultural influence on victimless crime. The study

does however look to make recommendations, with the benefit of that

research on how to update current prostitution and drug-use policy.

Of the four examples, homosexuality and abortion are clearly victimless

crimes. It is not surprising that they are legal in the 21st centurys

culturally accepting society. Prostitution and drug-usage are harder to

define in this way, but this study argues that in some cases the act of

committing the offence can degrade, and thus victimise the offender. Due

to the self-inflicting nature of these degradations, it is difficult to outlaw

the offences based solely on potential to cause self-harm.

Ethically, utilitarian principles support a cohesive damage limitative policy

that can protect society, or at least protect as many people in it as

possible. Whilst pain limitation is straightforward, the difficulty emerges

in that the extent that the benefits of pleasure can be enjoyed without

59
suffering inordinate pains. While the ethics of drug-use concludes that a

cohesive, one-size-fits-all policy is required for societys gain, prostitution,

by contrast, concludes that the emotional costs of sexual-intercourse can

only be appraised by the sex-worker themselves.

The motives of policy-makers can be questioned; there is some evidence

that cultural acceptance of behaviour is only condoned when it begins to

apply to the ruling elite. Tony Blair once declared the class war to be over

(BBC, 2011). It could be considered that as the class war, characterised

by the miners strikes of 1984-198 we live in a classless society. However,

there are still clear barriers between the policy makers of today and the

working citizenry. This can be emphasised by the proportion of ministers

who attended private education or are Oxbridge educated. This study

suggests that the kind of transparent self-interest that motivated policy

makers as they legalised abortion and homosexuality is less evident

today.

This study suggests that the legislative support for reducing prostitution is

sound. However, in recent years the support has diminished considerably.

In the aftermath of the failure of Amsterdam to successfully implement

legal brothels, there seem to have been a relaxation of efforts to reduce

prostitution. Present policy takes a seemingly well thought out

60
compromise of selective de-criminalisation, however despite this, current

quality of life for sex-workers could be improved. This study strongly

recommends that the state seriously research building trust in local police

units among sex workers with the view to enable a successful zero

tolerance strategy.

Research that is actually listened to needs to be commissioned better to

advise the practicality of de-criminalising some if not all drugs. From a

cultural consensus there is no reason that all drugs should remain

prohibited to protect shared values as there is to an extent public support

for legalising cannabis among other less serious drugs.

To conclude: neighbourhood bigotry is still alive and well in the 21st

century. The extent that it suppresses people has moved from

unchangeable personal traits (being female or homosexual) to castigating

behaviour (prostitution and drug use). Unanimity of the kangaroo court of

society does not provide justification for victimisation of its own. Ethical

and common sense should prevail against pure populist motives, whether

this will happen, remains to be seen.

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