3-4 March 2016
Symposium on the Legal Regulation and Policing of Commercial Sex, Queen’s University Belfast, March 3 – 4
As part of the CSRNI network the School of Law and the School of Sociology, Social Policy and Social Work at Queen’s University, Belfast hosted a symposium on commercial sex on March 3 – 4. This event was sponsored by the British Society of Criminology (Northern Ireland) Regional Group. While the emphasis of the symposium was on developments that are occurring in Ireland (North and South) issues around commercial sex in other jurisdictions including Britain and Sweden / Norway were also considered. Topics discussed include: the role of the digital economy in the buying and selling of sexual services; the policing of commercial sex; legislative changes and the criminalisation of demand; and feminist responses to commercial sex.
The aim of the symposium was to share analyses of the prevalence and regulation of commercial sex in Ireland, and to draw upon best practice lessons from other jurisdictions. The symposium brought together academics, NGOs and those involved in commercial sex in Ireland.
The first meeting of the NI BSC Regional Group took place on 7th October at Queen’s. This event was intended to revitalise the BSC in NI and was very well attended with around 25 representatives from the various statutory agencies (PSNI, DOJ, Prison Service) students and NGOs with an interest in criminal justice turning up. Dr Butler and Dr Ellison explained the aims of the Society, encouraged people to become members, but also focused on what individual members wanted the Society to achieve. We had a long discussion around how the Society could contribute to policy debates by for example, commenting on public consultation exercises. The feeling was that initially at least the Society should focus on building capacity internally within the group as well as focusing on particularly topic issues in the criminal justice arena in Northern Ireland. Discussion included, but was not limited to, issues around youth deduction, disadvantage, older adults, mental health, the role of communities in promoting reintegration and confidence in the police and legal authorities.
It was decided at the first meeting to host a follow-up networking event in mid-December so that people could become much more acquainted with each other’s work and to potentially explore some of the topic areas raised at the first meeting. Details of this networking event will be provided in due course.