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Local Govt Prostitution Reform Practice Guide

Local Government New Zealand produces best practice guide to implementation of Prostitution Reform Act

Local Government New Zealand has produced a best practice guide for councils to manage the implementation of the Prostitution Reform Act 2003.

The Prostitution Reform Act was passed on 27 June 2003. The Act decriminalises prostitution and establishes a regulatory context to manage specific aspects of the sex industry, creating a number of new roles and functions for government agencies and councils.

“Councils have a specific role in managing the locational effects of the sex industry. The Guide will help councils work through some of the complex social and legal issues associated with this regulatory control,” says Eugene Bowen, Chief Executive, Local Government New Zealand.

“These guidelines are not intended as law. While it is up to individual councils to decide how they want to implement the Act, these guidelines present a best practice framework. Councils do not have to make bylaws to manage prostitution but they are obliged to follow the legal requirements of the Act. Some councils may already have adequate provisions in place to address prostitution under their district plan in which case they may decide there is no need to make additional bylaws,” says Mr Bowen.

The guidelines are part of the local government KnowHow programme and provide guidance for councils on best practice for new legislation requirements as well as methods for developing bylaws and evaluating alternatives.

The Guide covers: the effect of the Prostitution Reform Act the role of government agencies and those in the sex industry comprehensive analysis of the role of territorial authorities given prostitution reform the potential risks or implications of prostitution for communities materials to assist councils in risk assessment advice on the processes for developing a local response and on methods for evaluating alternatives a toolbox of regulatory and non-regulatory methods contrasting the relative strengths and weaknesses of each method.


Local Government New Zealand is the national voice of all 86 councils of New Zealand. For further information please see the Executive Summary (below) or you can purchase a copy of the Prostitution Reform Act Guide for $60 from www.lgnz.co.nz or email june.lewis@lgnz.co.nz

Prostitution Reform Act Guide – a summary

The Prostitution Reform Act Guide is part of the KnowHow programme, providing guidance for councils on best practice on new legislative requirements.

This Guide focuses on the Prostitution Reform Act 2003, an Act which decriminalises prostitution and establishes a regulatory context to manage the sex industry. The Act provides roles and functions for a number of Government agencies, but also particularly for territorial authorities, in managing specific aspects of the sex industry. The role for councils is not necessarily straightforward, as they have to consider not only the Prostitution Reform Act, but also other legislation.

The Act provides for the Local Government Act 2002 to be used to control the location of brothels and signage for businesses of prostitution more generally. The Resource Management Act 1991 can be used to establish location and other controls for the operations of all businesses of prostitution.

This Guide has been prepared to assist councils to formulate their local management framework for the location and aspects of the operation of all businesses of prostitution (including brothels) under the Resource Management Act 1991 and the Local Government Act 2002. It provides an outline of the roles of various agencies and/or actors under the Act, including councils. It describes the general matters that councils and communities need to consider, and outlines a suggested analytical process to determine a preferred management response.

In summary the guidelines cover:

Before the Prostitution Reform Act and a brief history of the reform

The effect of the Prostitution Reform Act including its purpose, the role of public and other agencies, and the role of territorial authorities

Consequences of prostitution reform for your community including the harms associated with prostitution and Government’s response, characteristics of the sex industry, existing use rights under the Regional Management Act and the tests for validity of by-laws under the Prostitution Reform Act /Local Government Act

The process for developing a local response including the obligation to consult, preliminary consultation and information gathering, consultation on objectives, options and evaluation, processes for decision-making and evaluation.

The toolbox describing regulatory and non-regulatory management methods and their strengths and weaknesses

Appendices with practical examples and checklists for councils.

The Prostitution Reform Act Guide provides a way for councils to work through some of the complex social and legal issues associated with the regulatory control of the sex industry.

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