There has been a targeted police operation, including raids and entrapment, resulting in 25 people being accused of involvement in an alleged escort agency business on the Gold Coast. The majority of people are being accused of sex work offences.
It is reported that undercover police work was undertaken over many months. Police posed as clients and used entrapment.
Offences include “knowingly participating in the provision of prostitution”. This offence is from the Criminal Code and is used broadly against sex workers in Queensland for implementing basic safety strategies, such as working together or texting one another after a booking is over.
The Prostitution Act in 1999 introduced a boutique brothel licensing system that criminalises all other sex industry businesses, including escort agencies.
“Most Queenslanders believe that sex work was brought out from under police control 20 years ago. However the reality could not be further from the truth. These raids demonstrate it is the system itself that is the problem, and criminalisation is not the answer,” Dr Elena Jeffreys, State Coordinator of Respect Inc commented today.
“The licensing framework in Queensland is broken. The laws prevent 80% of the industry from operating within the legal system,” Dr Elena Jeffreys, State Coordinator of Respect Inc asserted. “Respect Inc believes Queensland needs a system that is cost effective, promotes compliance and brings all sex industry businesses under the same regulations that cover other businesses.”
Decriminalisation removes the layers of criminalisation and instead allows existing business regulations and industrial protections to apply. In New South Wales, sex industry businesses are subject to a comprehensive regulatory system under decriminalisation.
“The Northern Territory and South Australia both have decriminalisation bills in parliament, Queensland must act urgently or be left behind. Last week the Attorney General announced a review of sex work regulation through the Queensland Law Reform Commission. Arrests and raids are a waste of police and court resources and will continue until the Attorney General acts,” said Dr Elena Jeffreys, State Coordinator, Respect Inc.
“Sex workers are the people directly impacted by historically bad laws. The Fitzgerald Inquiry recommended removing police as regulators of the sex industry. 30 years later, the raids continue,” Dr Jeffreys concluded.