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Council Explores Prostitution Issues

Thursday 24 July 2003

Council Explores Prostitution Issues

The Christchurch City Council will in October distribute a questionnaire to the community on issues relating to the new Prostitution Reform Act.

The Council voted this afternoon to consult with the public, Prostitutes Collective, massage parlour owners, the Police, Community and Public Health and others, as part of assessing whether or not it needs extra control measures for prostitution-related activities, after the passing of the Act.

"We need to take our time, consult carefully and look at all the issues before deciding what if anything we need to do," Prostitution Reform Act Subcommittee chairperson, Sue Wells said. "We cannot afford to be hasty about this but we are determined to look at issues arising out of the new Act in a timely fashion."

The Council's timetable means that should it decide to take any regulatory action, that would occur in the new year. If it decided to pass any bylaws regulating the location of brothels and signage, they would apply to existing brothels and signage.

When the Act was passed on Saturday 28 June, a number of activities became lawful that were previously unlawful including keeping a brothel; living on the earnings of prostitution; procuring a person for prostitution and; soliciting for the purpose of prostitution.

Under the Act, the Council has two new bylaw-making powers and new criteria to be used with resource consents in relation to businesses of prostitution. These powers are for regulating the location of brothels and controlling signage advertising commercial sexual services.

Councils do not have the power to make bylaws which would try to completely ban brothels, soliciting or prostitution in general.

The Act contains no new bylaw making powers in relation to soliciting on streets but territorial authorities have for many years had the power to control lawful activities on public roads.

Christchurch City Council's Regulatory and Consents Committee has established a subcommittee to work through the policy issues arising out of the Prostitution Reform Act. This includes Councillors Sue Wells(chair), Helen Broughton, Alister James, Lesley Keast and Ingrid Stonhill

The new Act means that the Massage Parlours Act will be repealed in December 2003. From this date it will be legal to own and operate a brothel, provided owners have an operator's certificate issued by the District Court. Community and Public Health inspectors will have the power to enter and inspect a prostitution business in relation to health and safety matters.


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