Police to release names of those accused of paying for sex

(File photo courtesy of © Can Stock Photo / pius99)

In an ongoing effort to combat human trafficking in the City of London, police are taking a new approach to deter those who choose to pay for sex.

During a London Police Services Board meeting on Thursday, Chief John Pare announced that police officials will now be releasing the names the “johns” who are charged with purchasing sexual services.

“We are going to be treating them just like we do with any other crime, in terms of the release of the information,” he said. “This is our way to affect the demand and enhance public safety of these victims of human trafficking.”

During a presentation on Thursday, David Ellyatt, the head of the London police Human Trafficking Unit, explained that police recently ran a fake online sex advertisement as part of a sting operation. He said the ad garnered over 9,000 views within a week.

“That speaks to the demand that’s ongoing in our city by men to buy sexual services, and that’s a problem we really have to address,” said Ellyatt.

Pare said it is hoped that releasing the names of accused johns will address the high demand for prostitution within the city.

“We trying to use all of the tools that are available to us to combat human trafficking, and this is just another step in that direction,” he said. “Really this is a warning to those [individuals]; make better choices in life. This is not the choice you should be [making by] purchasing sex and putting these victims at the risk they are facing.”

Pare said the police service will still ensure releasing the names of those accused does not identify the victims involved, interfere with an ongoing investigation, or infringe on a court-imposed publication ban.

Megan Walker, the executive director of the London Abused Women’s Centre, said she is thrilled and delighted with the police service’s new tactic.

“We think this is another tool that we will have to try to deter prostitution and trafficking in our community,” she said. “We know that prostitution and trafficking are both inherently violent, and anything we can do to eliminate that violence, we have a responsibility to do.”

Naming those allegedly caught buying sex is something Walker said she and her colleagues have been advocating for.

“For at least the last 10 years we’ve been asking that police release the names of sex purchasers,” she said. “We think it’s a community safety issue, as well as an individual women’s issue. We believe sex purchasing is done by sexual predators who fulfil their porn-filled fantasies on trafficked young women.”

According to the Human Trafficking Unit, 97 per cent of those being sexually exploited through human trafficking do not want to be in their situation. As well, 25 per cent of human trafficking victims are under the age of 18 and 47 per cent are between the ages of 18-24.