Government under fire for escort agency ads pressure

The Government has been accused of “political point scoring” after putting pressure on the newspaper industry to ban ads for escort agencies in local papers as part of its wider campaign to reduce the number of trafficked women in the sex trade.

Ministers are understood to believe that outlawing the ads will help halt the demand for trafficked women.

But the Government’s work with the Newspaper Society to address the problem has been condemned by one insider as “political point scoring”. Another source adds: “The Government should be addressing the problem at the source and not the tail-end.”

The Newspaper Society recently met Harriet Harman, the minister for women and equality, Baroness Peta Buscombe from the Advertising Association, and other stakeholders to address the issue.

The Newspaper Society subsequently agreed to change its guidance to local papers on what ads to accept and promised to raise the Government’s concerns with regional and local newspaper publishers.

Home Office minister Vernon Coaker says: “The Government will continue to work with the police and local authorities to strengthen its guidance.”

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