Assessment of impact criminalisation of purchasing sexual services
IRELAND The ISWRN objects to Lord Morrow’s comments made during Thursday the 19 September’s Good Morning Ulster radio programme concerning the recent assessment of sex purchase legislation in Northern Ireland. We view these comments as inappropriate and inaccurate. Without reference to the data and the research findings, Lord Morrow, attempted to discredit the research team, and in particular the lead researcher Dr Graham Ellison QUB, that conducted the review. Lord Morrow made the fundamental error of assuming that academics cannot separate their personal ideologies from the research process. Like other professionals, academics must follow best practice standards in their work. This involves separating out their personal or private beliefs in pursuit of a higher goal, namely the generation of knowledge. Lord Morrow appeared reluctant to engage with the substance of the research and avoided responding to the questions put to him about the report’s specific findings. Lord Morrow demonstrated little awareness of the DOJ specification to which the research team had to work. This required they answer six specific questions about the impact of the sex purchase legislation. Most of this involved statistical analysis of various datasets and left little room for personal viewpoints. Had these various data sources demonstrated a decline in commercial sex and a reduction in demand, then, they would have reported these findings. They, however, did not. The research team reported what they found.
The ISWRN’s position is that emotion rather than reason governed the debate around the Democratic Unionist Party’s introduction of sex purchase legislation to Northern Ireland. The fact that the Northern Ireland Assembly introduced the legislation despite reservations from the Police Service of Northern Ireland – who had to enforce it; the Public Prosecution Service – who had to prosecute it and, the Department of Justice – who had to implement it–speaks volumes. The current legislation is not fit for purpose. Importantly, the report found that the sex purchase ban did not reduce either the supply or demand for commercial sexual services in Northern Ireland. Rather it exacerbates sex workers’ fear and anxiety. Lord Morrow had nothing to say on this.