Editors face prosecution if papers publish adverts linked to prostitution
SEX ADS in London's newspapers face the axe as the Metropolitan Police looks to combat people-traffickers who bring young women from abroad to use as sex-slaves.
"It is an offence to advertise for prostitution," said Detective Inspector Kevin Hyland, of the Met's Vice Squad.
"Our aim is to reduce the demand for exploitation and trafficking and protect vulnerable women. They have their documentation taken away from them and they receive very little or no money."
The Met estimates that 96% of prostitutes in London are immigrants, that 2,600 of those have been trafficked, plus a further 9,200 described as "vulnerable migrants". Other experts put the figures much higher.
Hyland says that police are set to use "aiding and abetting offences of controlling prostitution for gain" against newspapers that continue to publish the ads.
Theoretically, editors could go to jail over the issue.
The difficulty might be in proving to a court that ads for massage parlours and escort agencies are categorically advertising for brothels and sexual services, but the Met seems determined to make the effort and has high level backing from the London Mayor's office.
"Advertising of sex services in newspapers is just the visible tip of an organised crime iceberg that involves the full suite of organised criminal activity," said Deputy Mayor Kit Malthouse, who is Boris Johnson's police overseer.
"Some of the women are forced to work as slaves. They are not allowed out. They are not allowed to enjoy any freedom."
The Met has been encouraged to make its stand by campaigners including the Croydon Community Against Trafficking group. In the first six months of this year, the CCAT recorded 2,561 sex ads in Croydon local papers alone.
Nationally, the sex ads game is reckoned to be worth £44M to newspapers. Nevertheless, some have given up the habit, including the Newsquest Group, which publishes the local Guardians across London.
The Croydon Guardian has produced Blood Money, a startling expose of the local sex ads/sex slavery industry.