South East Cambridgeshire

Jonathan Chatfield Liberal Democrat from South East Cambridgeshire replied with a supportive email.

Thank you for contacting me about the Our Consent Counts campaign, which calls for the decriminalisation of sex work. This is an issue that provokes strong feelings on both sides of the debate. However, Liberal Democrats have supported the decriminalisation of sex work for many years. At our Autumn Conference in Glasgow last year, we passed a motion to improve the safety of sex workers.

Evidence from New Zealand suggests that decriminalisation can help to make sex work safer and reduce the risk of violence.

The Liberal Democrats want violence against sex workers to be treated as a hate crime. In 2011, Liberal Democrat Home Office Minister Lynne Featherstone announced a 12-month national pilot scheme to protect sex workers and encourage them to report violent incidents.

Nobody should ever be forced into sex work under any circumstances. The full and informed consent of individuals involved in sex work is paramount. We are also determined to clamp down on all other forms of exploitation and end the illegal trafficking of women into this country by organised criminal gangs. The Modern Slavery Bill, soon to become law, will help to strengthen our response to human trafficking and various forms of modern slavery and exploitation.

I believe that the safety of sex workers should be the overriding priority of any future changes to policy in this area. We should continue to press for changes that will ultimately improve the health and well being of sex workers.

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