The Government has bowed to pressure from the advertising industry
by announcing plans to make it a crime to place cards about prostitutes
in telephone boxes.
Ministers have agreed to bring in a maximum penalty of six months'
imprisonment and a pounds 5,000 fine by amending the Criminal Justice
and Police Bill during its passage through the House of Lords this
After pressure from the ad industry, ministers dropped their original
plan for individual local authorities to be given the power to clamp
down on the cards. The Advertising Association warned that this would
just transfer the problem from one area to another.
Sara Price, the AA's head of public affairs, said: 'We warmly welcome
the Government's decision. The problem causes widespread offence to
people and is very damaging to BT, other telephone operators and to
advertisers who want to use the space.'
The AA will now urge Oftel, the watchdog for the communications
industry, to introduce 'call barring' of the numbers used by prostitutes
to ensure the Government's action is effective.
It will also urge the Home Secretary Jack Straw to implement his reserve
powers to protect bus stops if they become a target for the so-called
Critics of the Government's plan have warned it would force more
prostitutes back on to the streets. But Charles Clarke, the Home Office
Minister, said: 'The cards can be seen by children. They create a bad
impression for overseas visitors.'