Craig Murray and it has been argued that a considerable amount in tax could be raised from this activity - e.g. The Independent 9th April 2001. Prostitution is not, in itself, unlawful but there are several criminal offences linked with it and, it can be argued, those offences cause prostitution to exist in a shadowy world in which crime is prevalent. Further, the trafficking of people into prostitution is a major concern.
The latest prostitution linked offence, which came into force on 1st April 2009, is that of "paying for sexual services of a prostitute subjected to force" - Sexual Offenders Act 2003 s.53A (which was enacted by the Policing and Crime Act 2009 s.14). Senior Police Officers warned the government of the potential difficulties involved in actually applying this new law - see BBC - and, so far, it appears that only three men have been dealt with by way of cautions - The Guardian 18th August 2010. The maximum penalty for this offence is a fine of £1000 and this seems to have made the Police decide that it is not worth dedicating resources to it even though the very serious "mischief" at which the offence is aimed is that of violent exploitation of women and many of those women are trafficked into prostitution.
To obtain a conviction for this offence, the prosecution would have to prove that a third person had engaged in "exploitative conduct" for gain. However, it is NOT necessary for the prosecution to prove that the "punter" knew or even suspected that.
Offences which are inadequately enforced is not a desirable state of affairs but who can be seriously happy with the existing state of our law in this area? Yet, is there any country with a perfect system for controlling "the oldest profession"?
Just one last comment on this. I just wonder how, in these difficult financial days, people see the use of a £520m CARE fund which, according to theTelegraph 14th August, is sometimes used to give money to persons who intend to pay for sex. Scandalous? Beneficial to society? Somewhere on the spectrum in between? Is it not time for our country to decide where it stands on these issues.