December 17th, 2006

Flying Squirrel


If one good thing comes from the recent series of murders in Ipswich is that it's causing discussion of prostitution, and how to deal with it back into the spotlight.

This article talks about how a previous proposed change in policy was scrubbed because it was assumed that the public/media would object to the legalisation of safe areas for prostitutes. Hopefully there is now enough momentum to actually get a change through.

The Tinancial Times goes further, advocating a change in the way the government deals with drugs, in order to help people take back charge of their lives:

A second issue raised by the Ipswich murders is whether the law on prostitution needs to be changed. Here, much of the thinking has been done by Fiona Mactaggart, a former Home Office minister, who believes the law must do more to protect prostitutes from trafficking and violence. She believes the law must be changed to allow twoor three women to work in mini-brothels - something currently punishable by a heavy jail sentence. Had this reform been enacted, it might have saved some of the Ipswich women from attack.

The recommendation from Ms Mactaggart sounds sensible but has been strongly opposed by people who think mini-brothels would become a public nuisance. Others say that the debate about prostitution laws does not respond to the issues raised by the Ipswich case. The murder victims were not women given to a professional life of prostitution. Instead, they were essentially drug addicts - some from comfortable backgrounds - who were looking to get money as quickly as they could.

There is merit to this argument. After Ipswich, the focus of policy-thinking probably needs to be on how to combat the use of class A drugs, such as heroin and crack cocaine. These are prohibited by law and those caught using such drugs are driven into a system of enforced treatment and rehabilitation that some experts say does not work.

A question being put by some groups is whether prohibition should be replaced by a system of regulated and controlled markets of the kind that operates in some European countries. Under this system, users would no longer buy drugs from unregulated dealers. Instead, they would go to pharmacists while coming under a system of close supervision which, over time, would seek to wean them off their habit.

For any government to contemplate such a shift of policy would be risky. But it is a question that nags away at the heart of the murder case. The five women had the terrible misfortune to come across a killer. But long before then, their lives had been blighted by addiction and the inability of support services to help them face down the monster of drugs.

Ask the audience

Let's say I've been involved in something, with people I like, who do things differently to the way I like to do them, sufficiently that I find it near-impossible to do it with them.

I find myself filled with angst, rage and bile - but also with an understanding that these people aren't doing anything wrong - because they _enjoy_ doing things their way.

So, as per usual, my hindbrain is writing LJ entries about the thing, and my feelings about it, but the social secretary part of my brain is shouting "Oh Noes! Not teh drama!" and leaping for the cutoff switch.

Andy should

rant, in a reasonably tactful way
rant, filtered to exclude the people involved
just tell people about it offline, to avoid drama