MPs in Bradford have backed calls for a database to be compiled of men who have attacked prostitutes.
The Association of Chief Police Officers (Acpo) has backed the reform after self-proclaimed Crossbow Cannibal Stephen Griffiths, was jailed last week for the murders of three prostitutes in Bradford.
Sex workers in some parts of the country are given pictures of so-called “Ugly Mugs” – men who have in the past been violent or threatening towards prostitutes.
A national roll-out is being examined by the Home Office which is to publish new guidance in the spring on policing problems linked to prostitution.
The Ugly Mugs scheme is also backed by the International Union of Sex Workers, which campaigns for the human rights of prostitutes.
Deputy Chief Constable Simon Byrne, of Acpo, told the BBC yesterday: “Any murder (is) one too many and if we can do something simple and effective to stop that then we should do so.”
When asked about more fundamental reforms such as legalising brothels, he said: “Perhaps the law does need changing – some of it is frankly complicated.
“We’d be keen for a dialogue to see if there’s a better way of managing the problem – be it ideas around criminalising some parts of it and not others. I think it’s time for that debate.”
Bradford South Labour MP Gerry Sutcliffe, who has previously called for controlled zones to be set up to protect vice workers, said: “I welcome anything which could improve the situation.
“People known and convicted, identified so people can be safer – it is a step in the right direction.”
He said he was pleased people were talking about issues around protecting prostitutes after the Griffiths case.
“There is lots of good work going on in Bradford with police and other agencies,” he said. “We need to decriminalise prostitution on the basis that it is a vicious circle – they get fined and need to go out again to pay the fine.
“At least people are talking about the issue now.”
MP for Shipley Philip Davies said of the Ugly Mugs scheme: “It seems like a very sensible thing to do, I am surprised it doesn’t happen already. If there are reasonable grounds for suspicion I think the women should be aware of it. It’s better to have too much information than too little. If it’ll keep some women safe I’m all for it.”
Of the legalisation of brothels he said: “If somewhere can be found which is safe and away from residential areas where perhaps an area could be made legal it should be looked at.
“It must be safer for women to work together rather than on their own. We certainly need a full and frank, open debate on it. We can’t just leave these women to work in an unsafe environment.”
Griffiths, 41, of Holmfield Court, off Thornton Road, was told he would die in jail for killing, dismembering and eating parts of three prostitutes – Suzanne Blamires, 36, Shelley Armitage, 31, and Susan Rushworth, 43.