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Controls for location and signage of Chch brothels

MEDIA RELEASE
Tuesday 16 December 2003

Controls recommended for location and signage of Chch brothels

New rules are needed to regulate the location of brothels and control signs relating to sexual services, according to the Christchurch City Council’s Prostitution Reform Act Subcommittee.

At this Friday’s (19 December) Council meeting, the Subcommittee will recommend that new bylaws be introduced, limiting the location of Christchurch brothels to certain parts of the central city, with restrictions on their signage.

The Subcommittee will advise that brothels be permitted in most parts of the Central Business District except for the area between Hereford Street and Gloucester St including Worcester St and Cathedral Square.

“If we limited the location of brothels to a small area of the central city, we would create a very visible red light district. We want our city to be a place where you can take your family anywhere and feel good,” Cr Wells said. “Brothels would not be allowed along Worcester St because it is the city’s heritage precinct and where the Cathedral sits. Cathedral Square is the city’s living room – its most important public space.”

Suggested restrictions on signage include only one sign per premises, no flashing lights visible from the street, no pictorial images and no sandwich-board style advertisements. Signs advertising brothels and sexual services would only be permitted in areas where brothels were permitted.

Any new bylaws introduced by the Council would not affect street workers. The Prostitution Reform Act only gave Councils new powers to address the location and signage of brothels. “We are going to have a look at other ways of dealing with perceived problems but it is not entirely within the Council’s sphere of influence,” Cr Wells said.

Similarly, prostitutes who work from home would not be affected by the proposed new bylaws unless they wanted to advertise their services using signage.

To reach its recommendations, the Prostitution Reform Act Subcommittee consulted with the public and learned about the local sex industry by talking to prostitutes, owners of prostitution businesses, Community and Public Health workers, and the Police.

Before implementing any new bylaws the Council would need to consult again with the public and key stakeholders. If the Council agrees to the bylaw process, a draft bylaw is likely to be available for public consultation in March next year. A bylaw would not be implemented before May 2004.

Any brothels established before a bylaw was introduced would have to comply with the new bylaw requirements.

Background

When the Prostitution Reform Act was introduced on 28 June 2003, 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 purposes of prostitution. Councils were given two new powers to regulate the location of brothels and advertising of sexual services.

Under the new Act, the District Court is responsible for issuing brothel operators certificates. Community and Public Health inspectors have the power to enter and inspect a prostitution business in relation to health and safety matters. The Police are responsible for enforcing the Act’s new operator certificates for brothel owners and prosecuting people buying sexual services from prostitutes, younger than 18 years of age.

ENDS

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