Vexed issue of sex in the city

Street prostitutes around Hunters Corner in 2000.  Photo / NZ Herald
Street prostitutes around Hunters Corner in 2000. Photo / NZ Herald

All forms of prostitution were decriminalised in 2003. But while the Prostitution Reform Act gave local authorities power to regulate where brothels operated, for reasons such as nuisance and serious affront, there are no such controls on those selling their bodies on the street.

Banning street prostitution in Manukau City was first proposed by former Manurewa MP George Hawkins in 2005 in a wide-sweeping bill voted down at its second reading.

A Ministry of Justice review in 2009 concluded legislation was unlikely to be effective. Honed and narrowed, a new bill was sent to a select committee in 2010 after a conscience vote.

In January 2011 the bill, ammended to cover the whole Auckland Council area, was endorsed by Len Brown's Super City, 11-7.

The Manukau City Council (Regulation of Prostitution in Specified Places) Bill would enable the new Auckland Council to pass bylaws banning street prostitution from certain parts of the city.

Targeting Hunters Corner, it would give police powers to stop cars and make arrests without a warrant. Those found soliciting in no-go areas would face fines of up to $2000, as would their clients.

Banned areas have not been specified but would probably include the vicinity of creches, schools and residential areas, though the mix of apartments and town centres may make the latter difficult.

This month, Parliament's local government and environment committee held a closed round-table meeting of interested parties to search for solutions. MPs are reluctant to change the law unless it would solve the problem and are understood to be against giving police a power of arrest - an element advocates of the bill claim is necessary to give any law change teeth.

The select committee is due to report back to Parliament on July 1.

- NZ Herald

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