Tag Archives: Police Scotland

Edinburgh council reject police condom ban recommendations

Condoms are freely available at LASS and many other sexual health agencies.

Condoms are freely available at LASS and many other sexual health agencies.

FOUR saunas have had their licences rejected, but seven others have been given permission to continue operating.

Police Scotland failed to convince Councillors that a condition that “no items of a sexual nature” should be allowed on the premises should be imposed.

There were 13 sauna applications to be heard, five in public and eight in private.

The initial five, heard in public, were all approved. They included Carol’s Sauna, London Street Sauna, Ambassador Sauna, No Eighteen and Steamworks.

The remaining eight were to be heard in private because of concerns about subjunctive.

Representatives of two, Scorpio and New Town Sauna, said they had gained approval as they left the council meeting last night.

Speaking after the meeting, convener of the licensing sub- committee, Councillor Gavin Barrie, said: “The committee has carefully reviewed all the information presented, including information from any objectors and reports from Police Scotland. Each application was considered on its individual merits and of the 13 public entertainment licences considered today, seven have been renewed.”

Among the saunas that had their licence applications rejected last night were Blair Street, New Gentle Touch, Paradise and Dundas Street, though the decisions could be appealed. Two other decisions were deferred.

Six establishments were raided by Police Scotland in July, and seven people were charged in relation to sex for sale on the premises. The new national force is perceived to be taking a stronger line than the former Lothian and Borders Police. Previously, police and councillors appeared to turn a blind eye to prostitution in saunas, as it was seen as safer than on the street.

In relation to Carol’s Sauna, police wrote about an inspection in June: “Officers observed that the females working in the premises were scantily clad, massage rooms were equipped as bedrooms, no purpose-built massage tables were apparent on the premises and used condoms were found in the bins in two of the bedrooms.”

In relation to London Street Sauna, police said “massage rooms were equipped as bedrooms with mirrored ceilings and walls” and “pornographic magazines were on display in the reception area”.

However, councillors on the licensing sub-committee found some of the police’s conditions to be unworkable and vague. The only additional conditions imposed, after being requested by police, were an alcohol ban and requirement that the sauna be in good working order.

The rest were either considered to be already in place, or rejected, including the ban on “items of a sexual nature”. This has been widely welcomed.

A spokeswoman for Scotpep, which supports sex workers, said: “Banning condoms would not have been safe. It would have pushed safe sex messages back 30 years.”

The Church of Scotland praised the council for rejecting the police condition.

The Rev Dr Robin Hill, convener of the church’s HIV programme, said: “While issues of criminality need to be considered very seriously in licensing processes, it would be folly to ignore the risks associated with a possible increase in the incidence of unprotected sex in Edinburgh’s saunas.”

MSP Margo MacDonald welcomed the news that two saunas so far had been allowed to stay in business.

She said: “I cannot congratulate the council enough for finally standing up. This new wave of police and their zero tolerance policy is wrong.”

Earlier, Police Scotland denied its attempt to ban “items of a sexual nature” would include condoms.

Superintendent Matt Richards said: “Police Scotland submitted a number of written recommendations for their consideration.”

He added: “At no point do the recommendations make reference to the banning of condoms.”

Story via The Scotsman

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Police ask for condom ban in Edinburgh saunas

You don't see police officers working without protection do you?

You don’t see police officers working without protection do you?

Police Scotland has written to Edinburgh City Council arguing that if it grants licences for five saunas it should be on condition that no items of a sexual nature are allowed on the premises.

Sex workers’ charity Scot-pep has condemned the police proposal saying it could lead to an HIV epidemic.  A council decision on new licence rules could end Edinburgh’s more tolerant attitude to the sex trade.

Campaigners for a safer sex trade have said that any ban on condoms would not stop people having sex but it would result in unprotected sex and higher rates of HIV and other sexually transmitted infections.

Earlier this year, six other saunas had their licences suspended following raids across Edinburgh.

Nadine Stott, a board member of the charity Scot-Pep, which campaigns for the rights of sex workers, said: “This goes against all basic common sense. It also places Scotland really out of step with the rest of the world.

“The World Health Organisation (WHO) just last week released guidelines on sex workers and HIV that specifically stated where countries use condoms as evidence of sex work that should be stopped immediately.”

She added: “We are really shocked that, in private, the police have been quite clear to us. They said that the policy (on saunas) wasn’t changing.

“We think this highlights how inappropriate the police are as a regulatory body of sex workers in a criminal context.”

A Police Scotland spokesman said: “Police Scotland recently provided reports to the Council Regulatory Committee in respect of a number of public entertainment licence renewals.

“In cases where there was evidence of criminality or premises operating out-with the conditions of their licence, objections were made to those licences being renewed.

“Police Scotland will continue to work with partners to inspect and report on licensed premises operating within Edinburgh in order to keep people safe.

“Whenever criminal activity, or licensing contraventions are detected within these venues, officers will respond appropriately and report all offences to the relevant authority.”

Prof Alison McCallum, NHS Lothian’s director of public health, said: “For many years, we have provided sexual health services, mental health services, hepatitis immunisations and drug and alcohol support in accessible clinics for sex workers.

“Over the last year this has involved more than 300 consultations with women.

“We promote safe sex and awareness of infections amongst sex workers.

“Condom use is always advised and condoms are made freely available.”

Deborah Jack, chief executive of National AIDS Trust, said: “Making condoms a reason to lose a sauna licence will not stop sex, it will stop safer sex and put at risk often very vulnerable people.

“Edinburgh led the way in the early years of HIV in harm reduction, pioneering clean needle programmes in the UK for people who use drugs and halting the spread of HIV in that community.

“We urge the city now to remember that proud heritage and not penalise condom use.

“It would be the worst sort of public health own goal.”

Story from the BBC

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