AA pressure spurs Government to clamp down on phone sex cards

The Government is to announce new laws on sex cards in telephone boxes this week, following a year-long campaign by the Advertising Association (AA).

The AA is urging the Government to ban the practice of “carding”, placing ads for prostitutes in telephone boxes and make it a criminal offence. It claims the practice ruins potential advertising space for legitimate businesses.

According to some estimates, &£450,000 in ad revenue is lost in central London every year because of the practice.

The Government refused to legislate on sex cards in last month’s Crime & Public Protection Bill, but it has clearly indicated that it wants a ban in a consultation document published last summer.

A Home Office spokesman, who confirmed there would be an announcement on the issue within days, says: “There is likely to be legislation within the lifetime of this Parliament.”

The AA has written to Home Office minister Charles Clarke urging a ban and opposing a plan to allow local authorities to deal with the problem which, it claims, would create too much red tape for potential advertisers.

The AA’s campaign has the backing of BT, which last year removed 13 million cards from its phone boxes in central London, and ChildLine.

The children’s charity claims the cards are intimidating to child abuse victims who use phone boxes.

Telecom operators have agreed to introduce a call barring system for prostitutes’ numbers, if “carding” is banned.

But sex workers union The English Collective of Prostitutes has said a ban could drive many prostitutes onto the streets to tout for business.

An AA spokesman says: “We are not concerned with the control of prostitution. We are simply promoting a legitimate advertising space which is being polluted and devalued.”

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