Can someone help explain this floor plan of a mid 20th century apartment?

Can someone help explain this floor plan of a mid 20th century apartment?

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I was watching 12 Angry Men, which was made in 1957; and they show this floor plan of an apartment:

My main question is, what's the opening in the wall between the hallway and the main room? It looks like it ought to be a door, but it's shown using a window symbol. Why?

(Edit: I didn't emphasize enough - that opening really, really ought to be a door. If it's not, then I want to know why an apartment would be designed with the front door opening into the bedroom.)

(This is shown as an exhibit in a murder case, and they spend a fair amount of time discussing how long it would take a man to get from the bed in the upper right to the front door in the lower left. They all assume that he uses the bedroom door in the lower right and runs all the way down the hall. Going through the living room would involve more doors but be a straighter line, but no one mentions the possibility. Normally I'd attribute that to lazy writing, but with the way it's drawn it made me wonder.)

I'm also curious about two other things:

1) The double wall between the bedroom and the living room. I guess the space in between is used as closets, but they would be very oddly shaped; about 5' deep and 3' wide. That would be very difficult to use - a normal closet is about 2' deep, while a walk-in closet needs to be at least 4.5' wide. A more normal design, today at least, would be to make the closets open into the bedroom.

2) Why the hallway extends all the way to the right. It's not providing access to anything but the man's bedroom (ie there aren't any other apartments), so why wouldn't the bedroom go down all the way to the bottom wall? It'd be four feet wider that way, and could still open into the hallway.

The answers to those two questions could be structural. You can see I've already done a fair amount of speculating here - I'm hoping someone who knows something about midcentury architecture can give me a more definitive answer, especially about the mystery opening in the living room.

(Edit: So, one of two questions has to be answered:

  • Why is a door drawn as a window? I don't buy plain blundering, because even someone who doesn't know anything about architecture could tell the difference between the door and window symbols.
  • OR why would anyone, ever, design an apartment with the front door opening into the bedroom? Such a bizarre layout would reduce the amount of rent you could charge by so much that the trivial cost of turning the hallway window into a door would pay for itself within a couple of months.)

Pass-thru closet designs like the one in the drawing were common in houses and apartments built during the first half of the 20th century. They lost popularity by the 1960's when squeezing the most usable space from a home plan became most important. If you look at photos of homes/apartments from this era you'll see numerous examples.

The hallway looks like a poor design. I've been in some NYC apartments that had bad/odd layouts so it wouldn't be entirely impossible to encounter one like this in real life. However, I would tend to think the overly long hallway here is probably done for dramatic reasons.

Interior windows like the one in the picture were often used to allow air flow through the apartment back in pre-air conditioning days and when people where a bit more trusting about leaving doors and windows open.

It was likely a conversion from 3 19th century tenement rooms to an apartment compliant with later NYC building codes. NYC had city-specific building codes until 2008. That interior window may have been a door, or it may have been an interior window to provide some light to an apartment/room without access to natural light. (Yes, these existed.)

My guess is that the window/door placement would have had something to do with where pipes for heat and water were located. Plumbing was a retrofit for these buildings. In some cases, staircases had to be modified or added as well.

NYC has traditionally has had a shortage of housing, so people had/have a tendency to accept certain undesirable things that wouldn't fly in other places. Also, starting in the 20th century, NYC has a history of regulating certain aspects of apartment living to a much greater degree than other places. Controls were placed on rental rates, for example, which may have limited the renovation budget significantly.

The hallway window provides light to the hallway, obviously (the light passes in a direct line through the living room window).

This is just unsupported speculation, but…

There's a possibility that the apartment was originally intended for the large room to be the bedroom and the room on the right to be the living/hosting area. Since there don't appear to be room-specific features in either room (unlike the kitchen in the upper-left or the bathroom in the mid-left), the difference between bedroom and living area is purely a matter of furniture arrangement.

It would then not be unreasonable for the only door to open to the living area, with the bedroom having a window open to the hallway.

Answer to the question 2. Some walls are part of the whole building construction and can't be moved. I think, it is one of such. Of course, it is the bad design, but not idiotic one.

Nothing is as &lsquo60s and &lsquo70s as the split-level home style, which became a classic in that era &ndash along with The Brady Bunch &ndash and perhaps, the most famous house plan on television. If you grew up during that time, chances are that your neighborhood was lined with a few split-level homes.

With the country coming into an economic boom, families who were getting bored with their cramped ranches and bungalows found inspiration in the split-level Brady home and the versatility the style presented. It was an opportune time to improve on the old ranch house plan, add space, and get a new, more exciting look.

What is a Split-Level Home?

The split-level design &ndash considered a more multi-dimensional and modern version of the ranch style &ndash had broad appeal. It was bigger, affordable and occupied less acreage than a ranch. Families could build a split-level home on a smaller or sloping lot &ndash dimensions lacking in the bungalow and ranch. These homes are also sometimes refered to as multi-level house plans.

&ldquoSplitting&rdquo the house into staggered levels provided families with enough room for their different activities, and was a very innovative use of interior space. It separated the living/dining rooms and kitchen (main level) from the recreation/family room (lower level) and sleeping areas (upper level).

Top: The three-bedroom split-level home has a covered front entrance, three bedrooms, one-and-a-half baths, open floor design with a kitchen island/nook/breakfast area. The front lawn adorned with flowers and plants add to its appeal (Plan #126-1063). Bottom: A turret (at right) on the three-bedroom, three-bath split-level home give it a Victorian touch. Shrubs surround the stone steps leading to the foyer, which opens into the living/dining/kitchen space (Plan #157-1256).

As architects and developers accommodated homeowners&rsquo desires for the split-level plan, two distinct forms emerged: the original split level and the bi-level plans.

Original Split-Level Design

The original split-level (tri-level or four-level with the basement) features one level attached to a two-story section. In this plan, the door is level with the main floor, which includes the foyer, living/dining/kitchen space the second level up is designated for bedrooms and bathrooms - usually built above the garage.

A third level down has the garage and a playroom/family room and then, a shallow &ldquodaylight basement&rdquo with windows slightly above the ground to allow plenty of sunlight. A majority of split-level homes have this layout.

This one-and-a-half-story home (top) is a tri-level: attached garage with bedrooms above, steps accented by shrubbery leading to foyer, opens to living room with 10-foot ceilings, kitchen/peninsula with eating bar, nook/breakfast area, half-a-staircase down to the family room. Floor plans for the main level (middle) and lower level (bottom) are shown (Plan #119-1130).

A covered front porch with brick columns welcomes guests to this traditional split-level home. The first level has a living room with 10-foot ceilings, a kitchen/eat&ndashin kitchen, walk-in pantry, and a rear patio. Three bedrooms are on the second level (Plan 146-1602).

The Bi-Level Style

The bi-level design splits the entrance to the house halfway between the two floors. The foyer of the &ldquosplit entry&rdquo immediately leads to stairs up or down the levels. In this plan, the top level has the living/dining rooms, kitchen, bathrooms, and some bedrooms &ndash keep in mind, the split-level and bi-level are elevated variations of the one-story ranch house plan, so bedrooms can be on this floor.

The family room/den and additional bedrooms are downstairs, with direct access to the garage. Most bi-levels have no basements.

A typical bi-level home (top) with the main entry in the center of the two floors. Windows on the second floor directly above the covered porch gives the exterior symmetry. A side door in the garage provides another entrance. An open staircase leads up to three good-sized bedrooms. Here are the floor plans (main level at center and upper level at bottom) of this home (Plan #115-1025).

Features of a Split-Level

Whether the home is an original split &ndash with four levels &ndash or a bi-level with two floors, these are the distinct features of the style:

> Low-pitched, gabled or hipped roof

> Overhanging eaves

> Horizontal lines

> Open floor plans

> Basement windows that provide plenty of sunlight

> Sliding doors opening to a backyard/rear patio

> Attached garage

You can see many of these features in the two split level house plans below:

Top: There are four bedrooms and 2 baths in this one-and-a-half story split-level. Abundant windows, rock/stone exterior, and landscaping add to its charm (Plan #126-1101). Bottom: This split-level features two bedrooms and one bath with a potential for more because of the unfinished basement. Interior includes peninsula/eating bar, nook/breakfast area (Plan #126-1081).

Origins of the Split Level / A Brief of History

While The Brady Bunch spurred its popularity, the split-level house plan had been on the suburban landscape decades before Mike and Carol Brady blended their families.

Some people credit television and the &ldquoblaring noise&rdquo it created as the reason for the need to add more space and separate the various functions - eating, sleeping, social activities, entertainment &ndash within the family dynamic.

In truth, Frank Lloyd Wright&rsquos Prairie style - low-hanging roofs, built close to the ground, and open floor plans - was the inspiration for the split-level. Wright&rsquos historic textile block Storer Mansion &ndash built in California in 1923 - was the &ldquofirst fully developed split-level in America.&rdquo To fit the mansion into a sloping lot in the Hollywood Hills, Wright staggered floor levels and connected them by half stairs. It was this impression that influenced later designers and architects to build on the split-level house plan.

Why Would You Buy or Build a Split-Level?

Putting sentimental reasons aside &ndash like growing up in one - a split-level is attractive to potential homeowners because it is affordable, comfortable, charming, and efficient. A big lot is not essential if someone is interested in building a split-level home and the staggered levels are adaptable to sloping acreage.

The style offers a lot of possibilities. The open floor space &ndash conducive to entertaining and gathering together as a family - is a huge plus. The lower level with the family room and den can be renovated and refurbished for other purposes &ndash perhaps, a guest bedroom or a permanent suite for adult children who have returned to the family home.

Updating Your Split-Level

As the split-level home enjoys a resurgence, there are a few ideas to bring it all the way back to prominence in the 21 st century.

1. Exterior Makeover.

The house too dark from the curb and the front door a bit boring? How about some decorative light fixtures to brighten it up? A covered porch or a portico will do very nicely. Perhaps it&rsquos time to replace the siding with more modern and attractive materials. Vinyl siding provides a variety of tones and colors. Another option is wood siding, although it is a more expensive.

2. Windows, Windows, Windows.

By adding a few windows or improving the old ones on an existing split-level or bi-level, the home gets a lot of natural sunlight (as in all the house plans featured here). Not only does the split-level look more inviting, the energy costs &ndash heating and cooling &ndash are reduced considerably.

More inviting entryway&hellip fix the front door &ndash covered foyer, stairs surrounded by flower boxes, shrubbery

3. Landscape.

Surround the steps with plants and shrubbery to make the exterior and the front entrance more attractive. Flower boxes for the windows are great ideas, too. Nothing like a garden or a manicured lawn to transform something plain to a picturesque façade.

These are a few simple ways to update originally designed split-levels and bi-levels to make them fit lifestyles in this century.

Imagine building or renovating a split-level home to look like this design:

A manicured lawn with flowers and plants framing the steps going up the covered front door flower boxes on windows, the living/dining/entertaining area highlighted by the tall front windows. And there&rsquos a balcony and covered rear porch (Plan #126-1075).

Main level (top) and lower level (bottom).

Are you ready for an exciting adventure? Start eyeing those split-level homes!

Minimal Traditional

America's Great Depression brought economic hardships that limited the types of homes families could build. The stark design of the Post-Depression Minimal Traditional house highlights the struggle. The simple architecture is often called "Colonial" by realtors, but the McAlesters' Field Guide best describes the home as minimal in decoration and traditional in style. Other names appropriately include "Minimal Transitional" and "Minimal Modern."

7 Ways To Determine A Home’s Architectural Style

Whether you’re headed to open houses or just cruising around town, you may begin to notice architectural details of the homes around you: round columns versus square on a front porch, stucco versus brick, and a gabled roof versus a saltbox roof. For the curious homebuyer, it opens up a slew of questions about architectural styles. Do those windows belong to a Colonial or a traditional home? How can you tell if the expansive front porch addition on your home matches the original architectural style of the rest of the house?

Knowing the basics of the most popular home styles — and being able to explain exactly what you like to your real estate agent — can be a big help when you’re starting a house hunt. “When looking for a home, knowing the architectural style you prefer will help your agent choose the right houses to show you,” says Amy Mizner, principal of Benoit Mizner Simon & Co. Real Estate in Wellesley, MA.

Here’s a quick guide to identifying some of the most popular residential architectural styles across the country.

Victorian: Large wraparound porches, bay windows, and scalloped wood siding

Who hasn’t dreamed of owning a fine architectural gem like this home for sale at 107 S. 20 th Ave, Longport, NJ? “There are several telltale features that Victorian houses share, usually starting with a front porch with a pretty wood railing traditionally painted in vivid contrasting colors,” says Holly Mack-Ward, real estate agent with Holly Mack-Ward & Co. Coldwell Banker in Philadelphia, PA. “A large double-door entry into a vestibule, bay windows, turrets, and scalloped wood siding are all common exterior features,” she adds.

The interiors tend to match the facade in these detailed houses, where intricate millwork, plaster molding, and decorative fireplaces with elaborate mantels are common. “There’s something about an old house with fun shapes and pointy towers that make people feel like they own their own castle,” adds real estate agent Scott Fore of Berkshire Hathaway Verani in Portsmouth, NH.

Craftsman: Open porches, gabled roofs, and jutting eaves

“Craftsman-style homes can be charming, especially if you like the idea of a simple home with a cozy porch and a stone fireplace,” says Mizner. “These are great homes for first-time homebuyers or those ready to downsize.” Craftsman homes like this one at 8336 32 nd Ave. NW, Seattle, WA 98117, first popularized during the Arts and Crafts movement of the late 19th century, are also celebrated for the detailed woodwork and specialty built-ins (think shelving and window seats) often found inside.

Tudor: Pitched roofs, large chimneys, ornamental framing

You might feel as though you’re in a BBC miniseries in a classic Tudor like this home for sale at 2349 Middlesex Dr., Toledo, OH 43606, but lo and behold, Tudors are available (and popular) in America. Tudors typically feature pitched roofs and heavy chimneys (usually in stone or brick) that lend a medieval feeling to the architecture. This style of architecture was inspired by 16th-century English thatched-roof cottages and became popular in the 19th and 20th centuries in the U.S. Expect a mix of brick, half-timber, and stucco on the facade in natural color schemes, plus elaborate arched doorways.

Mid-Century Modern: Open floor plans, large windows

Residential architecture saw the advent of a new type of design in the mid-20th century with open, multilevel floor plans and large windows that helped bring in nature like this home for sale at 3801 Whispering Lane, Falls Church, VA 22041. Joshua Saslove with Douglas Elliman Real Estate in Aspen, CO, acknowledges how this modern style of architecture (also referred to as bungalows) brought in a new wave of design. “These homes are characterized by distinct linear lines, clean materials, and creative floor plans,” says Saslove of the style, often fabricated in steel and concrete. The Mid-Century Modern style, inspired by Frank Lloyd Wright’s Prairie School of architecture, also allowed families to be near each other while still moving freely through the home, popularizing open-concept floor plans that are still in demand today.

Colonial: Columns, wood siding, and symmetrical design

You might have missed this type of architecture if you snoozed through history class. The style, a mix of different styles including Georgian, Dutch, and Federal, was first popularized by America’s early settlers. Today’s Colonial-style architecture is marked by grand exterior columns and symmetrical windows like in this home for sale at 2401 Kalorama Rd. NW, Washington, DC 20008. “If you’re looking for a true Colonial, look for a big box with formal and informal spaces,” says Amy Mizner. “You can’t go wrong with high ceilings if it’s too conventional, bring in an architect and take down a few walls. It’s less expensive to remodel an older Colonial than to build from scratch.”

Cape Cod: Steep roofs, prominent central chimneys, and dormer windows

Cape Cod houses are just plain cute: just look at this home for sale at 76 Ryder Beach Rd., Truro, MA 02666. They’re often decorated with flower boxes and neat shutters and give you a feeling of being close to the beach. This style of architecture was first used in the U.S. in the 1600s, because it reminded early Americans of the cozy English cottages they had left behind — and was sturdy enough to stand up to the area’s harsh winters. Its smallish rooms with a central chimney also served a practical purpose: they were easier to heat and stayed warm longer. While most of today’s Cape Cod-style homes were built to house the influx of veterans after World War II, they shared architectural similarities with those first built in New England: dormer windows, which are windows sticking out from a roof, smaller rooms, and shingled front facades.

Mediterranean: Red-tile roofs, plaster, and curved doors or archways

This style of home just might make you nostalgic for your last European vacation. The architectural style’s name is derived from its region of origin, and Mediterranean homes are marked by a sprawling floor plan, red-tile roofs, and a smooth plaster facade. Unsurprisingly, these homes are popular in the South (think Florida, where you’ll find this home for sale at 2416 Grandiflora Blvd., Panama City Beach, FL 32408), and are often accompanied by a palm tree or two.

1920s: Bauhaus

Bauhaus is a German expression meaning house for building, or, literally, Construction House. In 1919, the economy in Germany was collapsing after a crushing war. Architect Walter Gropius was appointed to head a new institution that would help rebuild the country and form a new social order. Called the Bauhaus, the Institution called for a new "rational" social housing for the workers. Bauhaus architects rejected "bourgeois" details such as cornices, eaves, and decorative details. They wanted to use principles of Classical architecture in their most pure form: functional, without ornamentation of any kind.

Generally, Bauhaus buildings have flat roofs, smooth façades, and cubic shapes. Colors are white, gray, beige, or black. Floor plans are open and furniture is functional. Popular construction methods of the time — steel-frame with glass curtain walls — were used for both residential and commercial architecture. More than any architectural style, however, the Bauhaus Manifesto promoted principles of creative collaboration — planning, designing, drafting, and construction are tasks equal within the building collective. Art and craft should have no difference.

The Bauhaus school originated in Weimar, Germany (1919), moved to Dessau, Germany (1925), and disbanded when the Nazis rose to power. Walter Gropius, Marcel Breuer, Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, and other Bauhaus leaders migrated to the United States. At times the term International Modernism was applied to the American form of Bauhaus architecture.

Architect Walter Gropius used Bauhaus ideas when he built his own monochrome home in 1938 near where he taught at the Harvard Graduate School of Design. The historic Gropius House in Lincoln, Massachusetts is open for the public to experience genuine Bauhaus architecture.

Gilded Age 1880-1929

The rise of industrialism also produced the period we know as the Gilded Age, a wealthy extension of late Victorian opulence. From roughly 1880 until America's Great Depression, families who profited from the Industrial Revolution in the U.S. put their money into architecture. Business leaders amassed enormous wealth and built palatial elaborate homes. Queen Anne house styles made of wood, like Ernest Hemingway's birthplace in Illinois, became grander and made from stone. Some homes, known today as Chateauesque, imitated the grandeur of old French estates and castles or châteaux. Other styles from this period include Beaux Arts, Renaissance Revival, Richardson Romanesque, Tudor Revival, and Neoclassical—all grandly adapted to create the American palace cottages for the rich and famous.

The city of the expressway: 1950s-present

Like many technologies, the car began as a toy for the rich, used to reach their country estates or to race around on tracks. As a means of basic transportation, it was severely limited by high cost and lack of paved roads. That started to change in the U.S. with the introduction of Ford’s Model T in 1908, which was mass produced at a price that was affordable to this country’s comparatively affluent middle class.

Still, car commuting was not much more convenient or fast than existing mass transit. Roads built for carriages, wagons, and pedestrians soon became severely overcrowded. Cities in the 1920s and 1930s spread a little bit more than they had when everyone relied on the streetcar, especially in places like Detroit and Los Angeles where roads were wide and auto ownership was highest, but the age of the automobile would await another technology—the expressway𠅊nd the huge infrastructure transformation that adapted the city to the car.

After World War II, two dominant urban planning ideas contended to shape the city of the future. Both sought to solve what was seen as the great urban problem: overcrowding. The first was the “towers in a park” model famously espoused by Swiss-French architect Le Corbusier, who envisioned replacing crowded old cities with huge skyscrapers surrounded by acres of greenery. This vision was implemented in various adaptations in the post-war new towns in Europe, like La Dnse and Clichy-sous-Bois outside Paris, Thamesmead outside London, and Vällingby near Stockholm. In the United States, his designs found favor mostly in government projects, like the monumental Empire State Plaza in Albany, and especially in public housing.

For the most part, Americans took another path. Frank Lloyd Wright developed the idea of the Broadacre City in 1932. He believed that the individual mobility provided by the car had made the city obsolete and proposed dispersing the population onto one-acre plots of land. It was a Jeffersonian vision that appealed to the deep-rooted American suspicion of the city. In 1939, a more commercial version was presented at General Motors’ Futurama exhibit at the New York World’s Fair. Broad expressways carried people into the countryside, where they could live in houses on lots that allowed plenty of room for a yard.

It is rare that one finds a past vision of the future that came true so precisely�tted by lavish government assistance to build highways and widen urban streets into automobile-oriented thoroughfares. After all, Wright had a point: Why crowd into downtowns when we could all drive anywhere we wanted?

The car on the expressway enabled large numbers of people to travel long distances on a day-to-day basis. Instead of small railroad suburbs, where housing was restricted to a short radius around stations, drivers spread out across suburbs could now commute 20 miles in 30 minutes. If the streetcar city covered 50 square miles, the 40-mile-diameter expressway city could cover over 1,250 square miles.*

Even with growing population, the supply of cheap farmland available for housing development appeared endless, and the cost of a detached house collapsed to be within the reach of the working class. In 1946, a house in Levittown, New York, the prototypical postwar automobile suburb, cost $78,469 in today’s dollars, with little or no money down required. The age of urban sprawl began.

Many older, denser cities began to lose population as residents chased the bonanza of cheap land. The great housing crisis of the 1970s was not a shortage—it was a surplus. When Jimmy Carter visited Charlotte Street in the Bronx in 1977, he saw a whole street of apartment houses lying almost completely vacant. And African Americans—kept out of the suburbs for decades by legal and extra-legal measures—were abandoned within declining central cities.

The problem with dispersion is that people can’t simply live next to where they work, especially in dual-income families. Good luck finding a home next to both a bank headquarters and a steel mill. And, of course, many industries like finance and media thrive on concentration. In the U.S., dispersed cities like Los Angeles and Atlanta ended up having even worse traffic than the relatively concentrated ones like New York City, as hordes of far-flung commuters pressing in daily to get to their jobs.  

Today, like its predecessors, the expressway has struck a technological threshold. Its downfall is its limited capacity. Even the biggest highway can move at most a couple hundred thousand cars per day—sufficient for small cities and for long-distance trips, but inadequate in a city of millions. And while people were once content—or at least powerless to resist—the demolition of thousands of homes and entire neighborhoods for new urban highways, those days are also over.


The total number of prostitutes in the United Kingdom is not known exactly and is difficult to assess. In 2009, authorities and NGOs estimated that approximately 100,000 persons in the country were engaged in prostitution. [6] Research published in 2015 indicated that there were approximately 72,800 sex workers in the UK 88% were women, 6% men and 4% transgender. [7] According to a 2009 study by TAMPEP, of all prostitutes in the UK, 41% were foreigners however, in London this percentage was 80%. The total number of migrant prostitutes was significantly lower than in other Western countries (such as Spain and Italy where the percentage of all migrant prostitutes was 90%). The migrant prostitutes came from: Central Europe 43%, the Baltic states 10%, Eastern Europe 7%, the Balkans 4%, other EU countries 16%, Latin America 10%, Asia 7%, Africa 2%, North America 1%. Thirty-five different countries of origin were identified. [8] According to data from the Office for National Statistics, prostitution contributed £5.3 billion to the UK economy in 2009. [9] In 2015, the HMRC set up a dedicated "adult entertainment task force" to collect unpaid income tax from, among others, online escort agencies. [10]

The sex trade in the UK takes diverse forms, including street prostitution, escort prostitution and prostitution conducted from premises. The premises used include massage parlours, saunas, private flats and Soho walk-ups. In 2003, undercover police visited the lap dancing club Spearmint Rhino on Tottenham Court Road in London and claimed that it was a front for prostitution. [11] In 2008, a study compiled by the Poppy Project found brothels in all 33 London local authority areas. Westminster had the highest number with 71, compared with 8 in Southwark. For this study the researchers had posed as potential customers and had telephoned 921 brothels that had advertised in local newspapers. The researchers estimated that the brothels generated between £50M and £130M a year. Many brothels operated through legitimate businesses which were licensed as saunas or massage parlours. However, the vast majority were in private flats in residential areas. The report found 77 different ethnicities among the prostitutes, with many from areas such as Eastern Europe and South-East Asia. [12] The study has been called "the most comprehensive study ever conducted into UK brothels" but its methodology has been criticised, and it has been rejected by sex workers' activists and academic studies. [13] [14] [15] The size of brothels in the UK is often small Cari Mitchell, speaking for the English Collective of Prostitutes in 2008, said that "most brothels are discreetly run by two or three women, sometimes with a receptionist, or one woman, usually an ex-sex worker who employs two or three others". [16] There were 55 prosecutions for brothel-keeping in 2013–14 and 96 in 2014–15. [17] In 2017, it was reported that some properties were being rented for a short time for use as "pop-up" brothels, sometimes in isolated areas. [18] [19]

Surveys indicate that fewer British men use prostitutes than in other countries. Estimates of between 7% [20] (1991 data) and 11% [21] (2010–2012 data) of men in the UK have used prostitutes at least once, compared to 15%–20% in the USA or 16% in France. The authors stress the difficulty of finding reliable data given the lack of prior research, differences in sample sizes, and possible underestimates due to the privacy concerns of survey respondents. [22]

A 2004 survey of street-based sex workers found that the average age of entry into prostitution was 21. [23] In March 2015 the University of Leeds, funded by the Wellcome Trust, published one of the largest ever UK surveys of prostitutes. It found that 71% of prostitutes had previously worked in health, social care, education, childcare or charities, and that 38% held an undergraduate degree. [24] A study published by Swansea University in March 2015 found that nearly 5% of UK students had been involved in sex work in some capacity, including prostitution. Most students went into sex work to cover living expenses (two-thirds) and to pay off debts (45%). [25] [26] Approximately 70% of sex workers were indoor workers. [24]

In 2016, the Home Affairs Select Committee conducted its first ever enquiry into the sex industry. [27] Evidence submitted to the enquiry indicated that Britain had approximately 70,000 prostitutes who earned an average of £2,000 a week. Submissions said that sex workers in Britain charged an average of £78 for services and had around 25 clients per week. [28] Around a quarter were said to be street prostitutes, the rest working from brothels and massage parlours. Reasons for choosing to work in prostitution included homelessness and addiction to drugs. In addition, an increasing number of single parents were said to be opting to work as prostitutes to provide for their families. [29] The committee recommended that, given the current absence of robust data on the subject, the Home Office should commission a research study to inform future legislation. [27]

One of the earliest pieces of evidence for prostitution in the country was given by the discovery on the banks of the River Thames of a Roman spintria, a small bronze token depicting a man and a woman engaged in a sexual act. Some scholars have suggested that spintria are brothel tokens, used to obtain entry to brothels or pay prostitutes. [30]

Medieval period Edit

Many of London's Medieval brothels were located in the part of Southwark which fell under the jurisdiction of Winchester Palace, the residence of the Bishops of Winchester. In 1161 a parliament of Henry II introduced regulations allowing the Bishops to license brothels and prostitutes in the area, which became known as the Liberty of the Clink. As a result, brothels multiplied in the Bankside part of the Liberty. They were popularly known as "stew-houses" as many were also steam-filled bath houses. [31] The bishop was their landlord, and they were often shut down when parliament was in session for the sake of appearance. Records of court proceedings indicate that priests, monks and friars were among their clients. [32] The brothels had to allow weekly searches by constables or bailiffs, and could not charge prostitutes more than 14 pence per week for a room. Opening was not permitted on holidays, and forced prostitution was prohibited. Prostitutes were not allowed to live at the brothels or to be married, and they were required to spend a full night with their clients. These were the earliest laws in medieval Europe to regulate prostitution, rather than suppressing it, [33] and they provided a significant income for the Bishops. It is thought that the prostitutes, known as Winchester Geese, may have been buried in unconsecrated land at the Cross Bones burial ground. [31]

A series of regulations followed aimed at restricting London's prostitution to Southwark and narrowing its appeal. [32] In the City of London in 1277, prostitutes who worked in brothels were prohibited from living within the city walls. [34] Nevertheless, there are indications that prostitution took place in the City in areas such as Farringdon Without, a frequent haunt of "common women", and also in the neighbourhood between Cheapside and the church of St Pancras, Soper Lane, a notorious district of sexual vice including one street called Gropecunt Lane. [32] In 1310 Edward II ordered the abolition of London's brothels. [34]

Most other towns and cities in Medieval England had brothels, and in some places the brothels were official and publicly owned. Prostitutes were generally only allowed to ply their trade on specified streets or in designated areas. Sumptuary laws were often passed requiring prostitutes to dress differently from other women who were considered "respectable". [35] Laws varied from town to town, and prostitution in a particular locale was either regulated, allowed de facto if not de jure, or outlawed. The regulation of prostitution in England lasted until 1546, when a fear that brothels were contributing to the spread of syphilis resulted in Henry VIII issuing a royal proclamation. This outlawed all of the brothels in England [31] and ended "toleration" for prostitutes, who were referred to as "dissolute and miserable persons". [36]

17th and 18th centuries Edit

The presence of prostitution in London during the 17th and 18th centuries is demonstrated by the publication of directories. The Wandering Whore was published during the Restoration period, and listed streets where prostitutes might be found and the locations of brothels. [37] A Catalogue of Jilts, Cracks & Prostitutes was published towards the end of the 17th century and catalogued the physical attributes of 21 women who could be found about St Bartholomew's Church during Bartholomew Fair, in Smithfield. [38] Harris's List of Covent Garden Ladies was published during the second half of the 18th century as a pocketbook. It described the physical appearance and sexual specialities of about 120–190 prostitutes who worked in and around Covent Garden (then a well-known red-light district) along with their addresses and prices. [39] Bullough argues that prostitution in 18th-century Britain was a convenience to men of all social statuses, and an economic necessity for many poor women, and was tolerated by society. Nevertheless, a ban on brothel-keeping was included in the Disorderly Houses Act 1751 as part of legislation against public nuisance. Towards the end of the century, public opinion began to turn against the sex trade, with reformers petitioning the authorities to take action.

19th century Edit

The evangelical movement of the 19th century denounced prostitutes and their clients as sinners, and society for tolerating it. [40] The Vagrancy Act 1824 introduced the term "common prostitute" into English Law and criminalised prostitutes with a punishment of up to one month hard labour. [41] The act also made it a crime for a man to live on the earnings of a prostitute (often known as "living off immoral earnings"). [42]

Victorian morality held that prostitution was a terrible evil, for the young women, for the men and for all of society. One of the first pieces of legislation introduced during the Victorian period to restrict prostitution was the Town Police Clauses Act 1847, which made it an offence for common prostitutes to assemble at any "place of public resort" such as a coffee shop. [43]

For several reasons prostitution was predominantly a working-class occupation. For many women, their journey into prostitution was one of circumstance. During the 19th century the public began to concern itself with particular social problems conversely, a view of the ideal woman began to emerge such as "The Angel in the House". The rise of middle-class domestic morality and the separation of men's and women's activity into separate spheres made it increasingly hard for women to obtain work, causing an increase in such areas as the needle-trade, shop girls, agricultural gangs, factory work, and domestic servants, [44] all occupations with long hours and low pay. Low earnings, it is argued, [45] meant that women had to resort to prostitution to be able to provide for themselves and their families, particularly in households where the main breadwinner was no longer around. A study from the late Victorian period showed that more than 90 per cent of prostitutes in Millbank prison were the daughters of "unskilled and semiskilled working men", more than 50 per cent of whom had been servants, the rest having worked in dead-end jobs such as laundering, charring (cleaning houses) and street selling. [46]

The level of prostitution was high in Victorian England, but the nature of the occupation makes it difficult to establish the exact number of prostitutes in operation. Judicial reports of the years 1857 to 1869 show that prostitutes were more common in commercial ports and pleasure resorts and less so in hardware towns, cotton and linen manufacturing centres and woollen and worsted centres. [47] The Westminster Review placed the figure between 50,000 and 368,000. [48] This would make prostitution the fourth-largest female occupation. One difficulty in calculating numbers is that In the 19th century the word "prostitute" was also used to refer to women who were living with men outside marriage, women who had had illegitimate children, and women who perhaps had relations with men for pleasure rather than money. [49] The police estimates of known prostitutes offer an entirely different figure.

Police estimates of known prostitutes: [48]

Date London England and Wales
1839 6,371
1841 9,404
1856 8,600
1858 7,194 27,113
1859 6,649 28,743
1861 7,124 29,572
1862 5,795 28,449
1863 5,581 27,411
1864 5,689 26,802
1865 5,911 26,213
1866 5,544 24,717
1867 5,628 24,999
1888 5,678 24,311

However, this table relates only to prostitutes known to the police. The unreliability of statistics during the 19th century makes it unclear if prostitution was increasing or decreasing during this period, but there is no doubt that Victorians during the 1840s and 1850s thought that prostitution and venereal disease (as sexually transmitted infections were called then) were increasing. [50]

Actresses were associated with prostitution in the public mind, and a woman's lack of respectability was indicated by her presence in a place of public entertainment. A series of small books, The Swell's Night Guides, listed the advantages and drawbacks of various theatres for men seeking pleasure, and gave advice on how to approach actresses. It warned men not to offer them money directly, but to say they wanted to hire them for private theatricals. [49]

Some prostitutes worked in red-light districts, others in their own neighbourhoods. London's dockyards had a large population of prostitutes, and Granby Street, beside Waterloo Station, was well known for its "half naked" women in the windows. [49] Prostitutes also found work within the armed forces, mainly due to servicemen's forced celibacy and the conditions of the barracks the men were forced to endure. [51] The barracks were overcrowded and had a lack of ventilation and defective sanitation. Very few servicemen were permitted to marry, and even those were not given an allowance to support their wives, which occasionally lured them to become prostitutes as well. [52] Regulating prostitution was the government's attempt to control the high level of venereal disease in its armed forces. By 1864, one out of three sick cases in the army was caused by venereal disease admissions into hospitals for gonorrhoea and syphilis reached 290.7 per 1,000 of total troop strength. [53]

Public attention was drawn to prostitution in London by William Acton's controversial 1857 book Prostitution, Considered in Its Moral, Social, and Sanitary Aspects. It raised concerns that the city was the centre of moral decay in Britain and was infested with diseased prostitutes. [54] Acton denounced low wages for women as one of the reasons why they would turn to prostitution, in contrast to the dominant perception among members of the middle and upper classes that women decided to become prostitutes because of an innate lustfulness and sinful nature. [55]

The Contagious Diseases Acts were introduced in the 1860s, adopting the French system of licensed prostitution, with the goal of minimising venereal disease. Prostitutes were subjected to compulsory checks for venereal disease, and imprisonment until cured. Young women officially became prostitutes and were trapped for life in the system. After a nationwide crusade led by Josephine Butler, legalised prostitution was stopped in 1886 and Butler became a sort of saviour to the girls she helped free. The Criminal Law Amendment Act 1885 made numerous changes that affected prostitution, including criminalising the act of procuring girls for prostitution by administering drugs or intimidation or fraud, suppressing brothels and raising the age of consent for young women from 12 to 16. [56] This last provision undercut the supply of young prostitutes who were in highest demand. The new moral code meant that respectable men dared not be caught. [57] [58] [59] [60]

There is also some evidence of homosexual male prostitution in the Victorian period. Since homosexuality was illegal at this time, most of the information that we have comes from court cases. A few dozen report the closures of gay brothels, or pubs, but the most popular locations were the parks and the streets, particularly those near barracks. [49]

20th century Edit

In the second half of the 20th century several attempts were made to reduce prostitution. The Sexual Offences Act 1956 included sections making brothel-keeping an offence. New restrictions to reduce street prostitution were added with the Street Offences Act 1959, which stated: "It shall be an offence for a common prostitute to loiter or solicit in a street or public place for the purpose of prostitution." As a result, many prostitutes left the street for fear of imprisonment. As Donald Thomas put it in Villains' Paradise:

The Street Offences Act of 1959 sought to prevent the public nuisance of having prostitutes on the pavements and thereby turned most of them into 'call-girls'. The mass availability of the telephone as much as moral determination by the authorities made the change possible. Fines of £60 for pavement soliciting and possible imprisonment under the new law accelerated it. [61]

The penalty for living off immoral earnings was also increased, to a maximum of seven years' imprisonment.

The publication of directories of prostitutes (also known as contact magazines) was legally challenged in 1962 when Frederick Charles Shaw published the Ladies Directory, a guide to London prostitutes. He was convicted of "conspiracy to corrupt public morals" and appealed on the grounds that no such offence existed. The House of Lords dismissed the appeal, in effect creating a new common law offence. [61] [62]

In a later piece of legislation, some of the activities carried out by prostitutes' clients were criminalised. The Sexual Offences Act 1985 created the two new offences of kerb crawling and persistently soliciting women for the purposes of prostitution. [63]

21st century Edit

An increase in the number of prostitutes originating from overseas in the 21st century led to concerns regarding allegations of human trafficking and forced prostitution. The Sexual Offences Act 2003 included sections making sex trafficking a specific offence. A Home Office review Paying the Price was carried out in 2004. It focused on projects to divert women from entering prostitution, and to engage with those already trapped to help them exit. [64] A second Home Office review Tackling the demand for prostitution (2008) proposed the development of a new offence to criminalise those who pay for sex with a person who is being controlled against their wishes for someone else's gain. [64] This approach to prostitution began to make legislative progress in 2008, as Home Secretary Jacqui Smith announced that paying for sex from a prostitute under the control of a pimp would become a criminal offence. Clients could also face rape charges for knowingly paying for sex from an illegally trafficked woman, and first-time offenders could face charges. [65] The Policing and Crime Act 2009 made it an offence to pay for the services of a prostitute "subjected to force", [66] introduced closure orders for brothels and made other provisions in relation to prostitution.

Some differing local approaches to policing have been tried. In Ipswich a version of the "Nordic model" was implemented in 2007 following the Ipswich serial murders. In Leeds unsuccessful initiatives to suppress prostitution were followed in 2014 by the introduction of local regulation. [67] An experimental "managed" prostitution zone was set up in Holbeck, Leeds to allow prostitutes to work in a designated area between 7 pm and 7 am without the risk of prosecution. [68] It was made permanent in January 2016 [69] and the BBC made the documentary series Sex, Drugs & Murder: Life in the Red Light Zone about the zone. [70] Gwent Police considered similar plans in 2015 for a part of Pillgwenlly in Newport, Wales. [71]

England and Wales Edit

The Policing and Crime Act 2009 (together with the Sexual Offences Act 2003) replaced most aspects of previous legislation relating to prostitution, although previous acts still remain in force. Working as a prostitute in private is not an offence, and neither is working as an outcall escort. Nor is it illegal for prostitutes to sell sex at a brothel provided they are not involved in management or control of the brothel. [72] [73] Street prostitution, however, is illegal.

Street prostitution Edit

It is an offence to loiter or solicit persistently in a street or public place for the purpose of offering one's services as a prostitute. The term "prostitute" is defined as someone who has offered or provided sexual services to another person in return for a financial arrangement on at least one previous occasion. The laws on soliciting and loitering for the purposes of prostitution were amended by the 2009 act. The main differences involve the shifting of focus from the prostitutes to the customers. Before 1 April 2010, it was illegal for a customer to kerb crawl/solicit only if this was done "persistently", or "in a manner likely to cause annoyance". Today, all forms of public solicitation by a customer are illegal, regardless of the manner in which the prostitute was solicited. The act also makes it an offence for someone to pay or promise to pay a prostitute who has been subject to "exploitive conduct". The law now applies to male as well as female prostitutes because the term "common prostitute" has been replaced with "person". Before 1 April 2010, a prostitute was committing a crime by soliciting/loitering in a public place more than once in a period of one month. Today, he/she commits a crime if he/she does it more than once in a period of three months. Sentencing options for loitering available to the courts include a fine of up to £1000, the issuing of a Criminal behaviour order and the requirement to attend rehabilitation meetings using an Engagement and Support Order. [74] [75]

Child prostitution Edit

Until 2015 there existed an offence of causing, inciting, controlling, arranging or facilitating child prostitution. In 2015, the UK Government "legislated through the Serious Crime Act 2015 to remove all references to 'child prostitution' from the law, in order to reflect the true nature of this activity as sexual exploitation". Under these changes the Sexual Offences Act 2003 sections 47–50 "Abuse of children through prostitution and pornography" have been replaced by the offences of "Sexual exploitation of children". Child prostitution no longer exists as an offence in the UK. [76] [77]

Brothels Edit

Under the Sexual Offences Act 1956, It is an offence for a person to keep a brothel, or to manage, or act or assist in the management of, a brothel. [78] Section 33a of the Sexual Offences Act 2003 also updated this law and made it an offence for a person to keep, or to manage, or act or assist in the management of, a brothel to which people resort for practices involving prostitution (whether or not also for other practices). This section provided a maximum penalty of seven years in prison and minimum of six months. [79]

Prostitutes cautions Edit

To demonstrate "persistence" under the current legislation, two police officers must witness the activity and administer a non-statutory prostitute caution. This caution differs from an ordinary police caution in that the behaviour leading to a caution need not itself be evidence of a criminal offence. There is no requirement for a man or woman to admit guilt before being given a prostitutes caution and there is no right of appeal. [80] Even if no criminal action is pursued, the caution remains on the individual's criminal record and may affect their future employment prospects. [81]

Customers Edit

Soliciting someone for the purpose of obtaining their sexual services as a prostitute is an offence if the soliciting takes place in a street or public place (whether in a vehicle or not). This is a broader restriction than the 1985 ban on kerb-crawling. It is now also an offence to make or promise payment for the sexual services of a prostitute if the prostitute has been subjected to "exploitative conduct" (force, threats or deception) to bring about such an arrangement for gain. This is a strict liability offence (clients can be prosecuted even if they did not know the prostitute was forced). [66] Additionally there exists an offence of paying for sexual services of a child (anyone under 18).

Third parties Edit

There are various third party offences relating to prostitution. For instance, causing or inciting another person to become a prostitute for gain is an offence. [82] Pimping (controlling the activities of another person relating to that person's prostitution for gain) is also illegal. [83] Similarly brothelkeeping is illegal. It is an offence for a person to keep, or to manage, or act or assist in the management of, a brothel. [84] Note that the definition of a brothel in English law is "a place where people are allowed to resort for illicit intercourse". It is not necessary that the premises are used for the purposes of prostitution since a brothel exists wherever more than one person offers sexual intercourse, whether for payment or not. Thus the prohibition on brothels covers premises where people go for non-commercial sexual encounters, such as certain saunas and adult clubs. [80] However, premises which are frequented by men for intercourse with only one woman are not a brothel, [85] and this is so whether she is a tenant or not. [86] Thus in practice to avoid committing this offence a prostitute who works in private must work alone.

Advertising Edit

Advertising for the services of prostitutes has traditionally been expressed in euphemistic language, partly as an attempt to avoid prosecution and partly as an expression of British cultural values. Prostitutes have advertised in specialist contact magazines for decades despite a common law offence of "conspiracy to corrupt public morals" which was created in 1962 to prohibit such advertising. [62] Adverts for prostitutes have also been placed in public telephone boxes (where they are known as tart cards) despite the Criminal Justice and Police Act 2001 making such advertising an offence. Newspaper advertising has been used since advertising in newspapers is not in itself illegal. However, a newspaper which carries advertising for illegal establishments and activities such as brothels or venues where sexual services are offered illegally may be liable to prosecution for money laundering offences under the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002. This is the case even if such places are advertised under the guise of massage parlours and saunas. Some police forces have local policies in place for enforcement against prostitution services advertised in the local press. The Newspaper Society's guidelines suggest that their members (the majority of local newspapers) refuse to carry advertisements for sexual services. [87] Newspaper companies nowadays often adopt a policy of refusing all advertisements for personal services. [80]

Internet advertising is now widely used by prostitutes, primarily in the form of specialist websites. [88] Social media have also become a common way to attract clients. [89] An unsuccessful private member's bill to prohibit the advertising of prostitution, the Advertising of Prostitution (Prohibition) Bill 2015–16, was introduced by Lord McColl of Dulwich in the House of Lords in June 2015 [90] and backed by the Christian advocacy group CARE. [91]

Northern Ireland Edit

It has been illegal to pay for sex in Northern Ireland since 1 June 2015 as a result of the Human Trafficking and Exploitation (Criminal Justice and Support for Victims) Act (Northern Ireland) 2015 which was enacted in January 2015. [3] Previously, prostitution in Northern Ireland was governed by similar legal restraints to those in the rest of the United Kingdom. The first prosecution for paying for the services of a prostitute was brought in October 2017 in Dungannon, Northern Ireland. [92]

Scotland Edit

Since devolution in 1998 the Scottish Parliament has started to pursue an independent policy to prostitution which had been historically similar to England since the Act of Union.

Street prostitution is dealt with under the Civic Government (Scotland) Act 1982, section 46(1). Kerb crawling, soliciting a prostitute for sex in a public place, and loitering for the same purpose are also criminal under the Prostitution (Public Places) (Scotland) Act 2007. There was formerly no specific offence directed at clients in Scotland in contrast to the "kerb crawling" offence in England and Wales in the Sexual Offences Act 1985.

A Prostitution Tolerance Zones Bill was introduced into the Scottish Parliament but failed to become law. A number of attempts have been made to criminalise the purchase of sex but all have failed.

There is a debate about the possible reform of prostitution laws in the UK. It centres around the question of whether new legislation is necessary or desirable, and if so which of the three main options for change the UK should follow. Proponents of regulation argue for a system modelled on those used to regulate prostitution in Germany and prostitution in the Netherlands. Proponents of decriminalisation argue for an unregulated system similar to that covering prostitution in New Zealand and parts of Australia. Proponents of sex buyer laws argue for a system in which it is illegal to pay for sex, as is the case with prostitution in Sweden, prostitution in Norway and prostitution in Iceland. This last option is sometimes described as the Nordic model of prostitution.

Public opinion Edit

A CATI survey conducted in January 2008 revealed the following answers:

Paying for sex exploits women and should be a criminal offence: 44% of the total respondents agreed (65% of those aged 18–24 agree 48% of all women agree, 39% of men agree)

Paying for sex exploits women but should not be a criminal offence: 21% of the total respondents agreed

Paying for sex does not exploit women and should not be a criminal offence: 17% of the total respondents agreed

Paying for sex does not exploit women but should be a criminal offence: 8% of the total respondents agreed [93]

An Ipsos-Mori poll conducted in July and August 2008 showed that 61% of women and 42% of men thought that paying for sex was "unacceptable", while 65% of women and 40% of men said selling sex was "unacceptable". Young people were the most opposed to prostitution: 64% of the youth said that paying for sex was "unacceptable" and 69% believed that selling sex was "unacceptable" older people had more relaxed attitudes about prostitution (men over 55 were the most accepting of buying sex). Of all the people who were questioned, 60% would feel ashamed if they found out a family member was working as a prostitute, while 43% thought it should be illegal to pay for sex however, 58% supported making it illegal to pay for sex if "it will help reduce the numbers of women and children being trafficked into the UK for sexual exploitation". [94] [95] [96] [97]

A poll conducted in August 2015 indicated a majority view in support of decriminalising prostitution among adults in Great Britain. In a poll of 1,696 adults in Great Britain, 54% indicated support for decriminalising prostitution. The question was posed as "Currently prostitution is restricted in Britain, meaning that in some cases it can be legal but in others it is a criminal offence - for example street prostitution and running a brothel. Would you support or oppose the full decriminalisation of prostitution, as long as it is consensual?" [98] The results were as follows: [99]

  • Total: 21% oppose, 54% support, 25% don't know
  • Men: 15% oppose, 65% support, 20% don't know
  • Women 27% oppose, 43% support, 29% don't know

Regulation Edit

In 2006, the Labour government raised the possibility of loosening the prostitution laws and allowing small brothels in England and Wales. According to the law that is still current, one prostitute may work from an indoor premises, but if there are two or more prostitutes the place is considered a brothel and it is an offence. Historically, local police forces have wavered between zero tolerance of prostitution and unofficial red light districts. Three British ministers, Vernon Coaker, Barbara Follett and Vera Baird, visited the Netherlands to study their approach to the sex trade, and came to the conclusion that their policy of legal prostitution was not effective, and therefore ruled out the legalisation of prostitution in the UK. [100] Plans to allow "mini brothels" were abandoned, after fears that such establishments would bring pimps and drug dealers into residential areas.

On the subject of local regulation, a spokeswoman for the English Collective of Prostitutes commented in 2016: "A managed zone is no substitute for decriminalisation. Some women complain that the police wash their hands of the area and they feel segregated from the protection of the local community." [69]

Decriminalisation Edit

Like many other countries, the UK has sex workers' rights groups, which argue that the best solution for the problems associated with prostitution is decriminalisation. These groups have criticised the provisions from the Policing and Crime Act 2009. The English Collective of Prostitutes (ECP), founded in 1975, campaigns for the decriminalisation of prostitution, sex workers' right to recognition and safety, and financial alternatives so that no one is forced into prostitution by poverty in addition the ECP provides information, help and support to individual prostitutes and others concerned with sex workers' rights. One member, Nikki Adams, said that the government was overstating the extent of the trafficking problem, and that most prostitution was consensual. [65] The UK-based International Union of Sex Workers (IUSW), part of GMB Trade Union, campaigns for the labour rights of those who work in the sex industry.

In 2010, in response to the Bradford murders of three prostitutes, the new Conservative prime minister David Cameron said that the decriminalisation of prostitution should be "looked at again". He also called for tougher action on kerb-crawling and drug abuse. [101] [102] The Association of Chief Police Officers suggested that designated red-light zones and decriminalised brothels might help to improve prostitutes' safety. [103] Defendants in a test case in Manchester attempted to use the Human Rights Act 1998 to argue that the law against brothelkeeping breached their human rights by not allowing them to work together as prostitutes in safety. However, the case collapsed in 2016 without a verdict. [4]

In March 2016, Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn, speaking to students at Goldsmith's University, said that he was "in favour of decriminalising the sex industry". [104]

In May 2016 the Home Affairs Select Committee, headed by Keith Vaz, investigated prostitution laws in Britain. The committee called on Brooke Magnanti and Paris Lees to give evidence about sex work conditions in the UK. [105] The pair suggested that the past criminal records [106] of those arrested for prostitution-related crimes should be eliminated. [107] The committee's interim report was published in July 2016. It recommended that soliciting should be decriminalised and that sex workers should be allowed to share premises, while laws allowing the prosecution of those who use brothels to control or exploit sex workers should be retained. [27] It also recommended that past criminal records for prostitution should be removed, [29] as suggested by Maganti and Lees. Sex worker nonprofits called the apparent U-turn decision "a stunning victory for sex workers and our demands for decriminalisation" and "a giant step forward for sex workers' rights in the UK." [108]

In May 2019, the Royal College of Nursing voted to back the decriminalisation of prostitution in the United Kingdom. The decision was primarily based around safeguarding sex workers and improving their health. [109]

The "Nordic model" of prostitution Edit

The focus of those who oppose the legalisation of prostitution is the ethical argument that prostitution is inherently exploitative, a view held by many in the Government and the police. [110] Additionally it is argued that the legalisation of prostitution would result in an increase in human trafficking and crime. An example offered by anti-prostitution activists is that of Amsterdam in the Netherlands, which experienced severe problems with human trafficking and crime in 2010. [111] At the time the mayor of Amsterdam, Job Cohen, said about legal prostitution in his city: "We've realised this is no longer about small-scale entrepreneurs, but that big crime organisations are involved here in trafficking women, drugs, killings and other criminal activities" and "We realise that this [legal prostitution] hasn't worked, that trafficking in women continues. Women are now moved around more, making police work more difficult." [112]

In 2007, Commons Leader Harriet Harman proposed that the "demand side" of prostitution should be tackled by making it illegal to pay for sex. [65] [113] Ministers pointed to Sweden, where purchasing sexual services is a criminal offence.

In March 2014 an all-party parliamentary group in the House of Commons issued a report called Shifting the Burden [114] which claimed that the current legislation is complicated and confusing. The report expressed concern at the difficulty of successfully prosecuting the sexual abuse of girls and the rape of trafficked women. The report proposed the introduction of the Nordic model of prostitution to England and Wales, [115] consolidating current legislation into a single act with a general offence for the purchase of sexual services. It also suggested re-examining the definition of force and coercion in the Policing and Crime Act 2009 and raising the age at which strict liability is established under the Sexual Offences Act 2003 from 13 to 16. [64]

In November 2014 Fiona Mactaggart MP added an amendment to the Modern Slavery Bill, a bill consolidating and simplifying slavery and trafficking offences into one law. [116] Mactaggart's amendment aimed to criminalise the purchase of sex ("procuring sex for payment"). [117] In response Shadow Home Secretary Yvette Cooper put forward an alternative amendment which called for a period of review and research. [118] Mactaggart's amendment was subsequently dropped before the bill became law in March 2015 despite its initially having received cross-party support. [119]

In January 2016 the Home Affairs Select Committee began an inquiry into prostitution legislation, including trying to assess "whether the balance in the burden of criminality should shift to those who pay for sex rather than those who sell it". [120] [121] On the subject of the "sex buyer law" (as it termed the Nordic model), the committee's interim report said: [27]

The sex buyer law. is based on the premise that prostitution is morally wrong and should therefore be illegal, whereas at present the law makes no such moral judgement. the sex buyer law makes no attempt to discriminate between prostitution which occurs between two consenting adults, and that which involves exploitation. Much of the rhetoric also denies sex workers the opportunity to speak for themselves and to make their own choices. We are not yet convinced that the sex buyer law would be effective in reducing demand or in improving the lives of sex workers.

Prostitutes are routinely victims of crime as a result of the social and legal status of their profession. 180 sex workers were murdered in Britain between 1990 and 2015, according to figures given by the National Ugly Mugs (NUM) scheme. [122] Of the last 11 to die, nine were migrants. [29] University of Leeds research in 2015 found that 47% of prostitutes had been victims of crime, including rape and robbery, while 36% had received threatening texts, telephone calls or emails. [24] The mortality rate for sex workers is 12 times higher than the national average. [18] There have been a number of websites which have allowed prostitutes to publish warnings regarding potentially dangerous clients. In 2007, the Saafe forum (Support and Advice for Escorts) created a centralised function using RSS from existing sites. This did not work as well as envisaged and was ended in 2010. In 2011, the Home Office announced a pilot scheme for a national online network (National Ugly Mugs) to collate and distribute information. [123] The scheme was launched in 2012 and run by the UK Network of Sex Work Projects. [124] It has continued after its 12-month pilot period and is still in operation. [88] [125]

Serial murders Edit

There have been a number of notable serial murders of prostitutes in the United Kingdom.

  • The Whitechapel murders were a series of eleven unsolved murders of women committed in or near the impoverished Whitechapel district in the East End of London between 3 April 1888 and 13 February 1891. Most, if not all, of the victims were prostitutes. Some of the attacks were notable on account of post-mortem abdominal mutilations. Some or all of them have variously been ascribed to the unidentified serial killer known as Jack the Ripper.
  • The Jack the Stripper murders (also known as the "Hammersmith murders", "Hammersmith nudes" or "nude murders") were a series of between six and eight unsolved murders of prostitutes that took place in London between 1964 and 1965. All the victims were found dead in and around the River Thames, all had been strangled and all were naked. "Jack the Stripper" was the nickname given to the unknown serial killer. [126]
  • In 1981 Peter Sutcliffe (popularly referred to as the "Yorkshire Ripper") was convicted of a series of murders of thirteen women including a number of prostitutes that took place between 1975 and 1980 in and around West Yorkshire. Sutcliffe was sentenced to life imprisonment.
  • The Ipswich serial murders took place between 30 October and 10 December 2006, when the bodies of five murdered women were discovered at different locations near Ipswich, Suffolk. All the victims were prostitutes from the Ipswich area. Steve Wright was sentenced to life imprisonment – with recommendation of a whole life tariff – for the murders. The case received high media attention.
  • The Bradford murders took place in 2009–10 in Bradford. Three prostitutes were killed. On 24 May 2010 Stephen Shaun Griffiths was arrested and subsequently charged with the crime. [127] Griffiths was convicted of all three murders on 21 December 2010 after pleading guilty. He was given a life sentence. [128]

Sex trafficking Edit

In the early 2000s there was growing concern about human trafficking, in particular allegations regarding the trafficking of women and underage girls into the UK for forced prostitution. As a result, the Sexual Offences Act 2003 included sections dealing with cases of sex trafficking. Section 57 of the Act covers trafficking into the UK for sexual exploitation. Offences relating to trafficking within and out of the UK are contained in sections 58 and 59. These offences apply in England and Wales and Northern Ireland, with section 22 of the Criminal Justice (Scotland) Act 2003 providing similar offences for Scotland. [129] The act uses a much looser definition of "trafficking" than the international definition used in the UN Protocol, lacking any requirement that a person is trafficked for sex against their will or with the use of coercion or force. Simply arranging or facilitating the arrival in the United Kingdom of another person for the purpose of prostitution is considered trafficking. Hence the act covers the movement of all sex workers, including willing professionals who are simply travelling in search of a better income. [84] [130]

In 2005, a high-profile court case resulted in the conviction of five Albanians who trafficked a 16-year-old Lithuanian girl and forced her to have sex with as many as 10 men a day. [131] A 2007 UN report identified the major sources of trafficked persons include Thailand, China, Nigeria, Albania, Bulgaria, Belarus, Moldova and Ukraine. [132] The British government signed the Council of Europe Convention on Action against Trafficking in Human Beings in March 2007, and ratified it in December 2008. [133]

In July 2008 Operation Pentameter Two, the UK's biggest ever investigation into sex trafficking, announced 528 arrests but resulted in no convictions. [134] A study carried out in 2011 by London Metropolitan University and funded by the Government's Economic and Social Research Council found that 6% of prostitutes "felt" they were "deceived and forced" into the work. Commenting on the low figure, Dr Nick Mai said that "the large majority of migrant workers in the UK sex industry are not forced or trafficked" and that "working in the sex industry is often a way for migrants to avoid the unrewarding and sometimes exploitative conditions they meet in non-sexual jobs." [135] However, the ESRC survey remains controversial as its data are derived from post-facto interviews with sex workers whose susceptibility to Stockholm syndrome and other psychological traumas are well-documented. [136] [137]

The era of industrialization

In both Europe and the United States, the surge of industry during the mid- and late 19th century was accompanied by rapid population growth, unfettered business enterprise, great speculative profits, and public failures in managing the unwanted physical consequences of development. Giant sprawling cities developed during this era, exhibiting the luxuries of wealth and the meanness of poverty in sharp juxtaposition. Eventually the corruption and exploitation of the era gave rise to the Progressive movement, of which city planning formed a part. The slums, congestion, disorder, ugliness, and threat of disease provoked a reaction in which sanitation improvement was the first demand. Significant betterment of public health resulted from engineering improvements in water supply and sewerage, which were essential to the further growth of urban populations. Later in the century the first housing reform measures were enacted. The early regulatory laws (such as Great Britain’s Public Health Act of 1848 and the New York State Tenement House Act of 1879) set minimal standards for housing construction. Implementation, however, occurred only slowly, as governments did not provide funding for upgrading existing dwellings, nor did the minimal rent-paying ability of slum dwellers offer incentives for landlords to improve their buildings. Nevertheless, housing improvement occurred as new structures were erected, and new legislation continued to raise standards, often in response to the exposés of investigators and activists such as Jacob Riis in the United States and Charles Booth in England.

Also during the Progressive era, which extended through the early 20th century, efforts to improve the urban environment emerged from recognition of the need for recreation. Parks were developed to provide visual relief and places for healthful play or relaxation. Later, playgrounds were carved out in congested areas, and facilities for games and sports were established not only for children but also for adults, whose workdays gradually shortened. Supporters of the parks movement believed that the opportunity for outdoor recreation would have a civilizing effect on the working classes, who were otherwise consigned to overcrowded housing and unhealthful workplaces. New York’s Central Park, envisioned in the 1850s and designed by architects Calvert Vaux and Frederick Law Olmsted, became a widely imitated model. Among its contributions were the separation of pedestrian and vehicular traffic, the creation of a romantic landscape within the heart of the city, and a demonstration that the creation of parks could greatly enhance real-estate values in their surroundings. (See landscape architecture.)

Concern for the appearance of the city had long been manifest in Europe, in the imperial tradition of court and palace and in the central plazas and great buildings of church and state. In Paris during the Second Empire (1852–70), Georges-Eugène, Baron Haussmann, became the greatest of the planners on a grand scale, advocating straight arterial boulevards, advantageous vistas, and a symmetry of squares and radiating roads. The resulting urban form was widely emulated throughout the rest of continental Europe. Haussmann’s efforts went well beyond beautification, however essentially they broke down the barriers to commerce presented by medieval Paris, modernizing the city so as to enable the efficient transportation of goods as well as the rapid mobilization of military troops. His designs involved the demolition of antiquated tenement structures and their replacement by new apartment houses intended for a wealthier clientele, the construction of transportation corridors and commercial space that broke up residential neighbourhoods, and the displacement of poor people from centrally located areas. Haussmann’s methods provided a template by which urban redevelopment programs would operate in Europe and the United States until nearly the end of the 20th century, and they would extend their influence in much of the developing world after that.

As the grandeur of the European vision took root in the United States through the City Beautiful movement, its showpiece became the World’s Columbian Exposition of 1893, developed in Chicago according to principles set out by American architect Daniel Burnham. The architectural style of the exposition established an ideal that many cities imitated. Thus, the archetype of the City Beautiful—characterized by grand malls and majestically sited civic buildings in Greco-Roman architecture—was replicated in civic centres and boulevards throughout the country, contrasting with and in protest against the surrounding disorder and ugliness. However, diffusion of the model in the United States was limited by the much more restricted power of the state (in contrast to European counterparts) and by the City Beautiful model’s weak potential for enhancing businesses’ profitability.

Whereas Haussmann’s approach was especially influential on the European continent and in the design of American civic centres, it was the utopian concept of the garden city, first described by British social reformer Ebenezer Howard in his book Garden Cities of To-Morrow (1902), that shaped the appearance of residential areas in the United States and Great Britain. Essentially a suburban form, Howard’s garden city incorporated low-rise homes on winding streets and culs-de-sac, the separation of commerce from residences, and plentiful open space lush with greenery. Howard called for a “cooperative commonwealth” in which rises in property values would be shared by the community, open land would be communally held, and manufacturing and retail establishments would be clustered within a short distance of residences. Successors abandoned Howard’s socialist ideals but held on to the residential design form established in the two new towns built during Howard’s lifetime ( Letchworth and Welwyn Garden City), ultimately imitating the garden city model of winding roads and ample greenery in the forming of the modern suburban subdivision.

Perhaps the single most influential factor in shaping the physical form of the contemporary city was transportation technology. The evolution of transport modes from foot and horse to mechanized vehicles facilitated tremendous urban territorial expansion. Workers were able to live far from their jobs, and goods could move quickly from point of production to market. However, automobiles and buses rapidly congested the streets in the older parts of cities. By threatening strangulation of traffic, they dramatized the need to establish new kinds of orderly circulation systems. Increasingly, transportation networks became the focus of planning activities, especially as subway systems were constructed in New York, London, and Paris at the beginning of the 20th century. To accommodate increased traffic, municipalities invested heavily in widening and extending roads. (See also traffic control.)

Many city governments established planning departments during the first third of the 20th century. The year 1909 was a milestone in the establishment of urban planning as a modern governmental function: it saw the passage of Britain’s first town-planning act and, in the United States, the first national conference on city planning, the publication of Burnham’s plan for Chicago, and the appointment of Chicago’s Plan Commission (the first recognized planning agency in the United States, however, was created in Hartford, Connecticut, in 1907). Germany, Sweden, and other European countries also developed planning administration and law at this time.

The colonial powers transported European concepts of city planning to the cities of the developing world. The result was often a new city planned according to Western principles of beauty and separation of uses, adjacent to unplanned settlements both new and old, subject to all the ills of the medieval European city. New Delhi, India, epitomizes this form of development. Built according to the scheme devised by the British planners Edwin Lutyens and Herbert Baker, it grew up cheek by jowl with the tangled streets of Old Delhi. At the same time, the old city, while less salubrious, offered its inhabitants a sense of community, historical continuity, and a functionality more suited to their way of life. The same pattern repeated itself throughout the British-ruled territories, where African capitals such as Nairobi, Kenya, and Salisbury, Southern Rhodesia (now Harare, Zimbabwe), were similarly designed to accommodate their white colonial rulers. Although the decorative motifs imposed by France in its colonial capitals reflected a somewhat different aesthetic sensibility, French planners likewise implanted broad boulevards and European-style housing in their colonial outposts.

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