Former Suffolk detective calls for prostitution law change

Alan Caton after he received his Officer of the British Empire (OBE) medal following an Investiture

Alan Caton, who was awarded an OBE in 2012, for services to policing - Credit: PA

A former Suffolk detective superintendent who led the response to tackle street prostitution in Ipswich after five women were murdered in 2006 is now calling for a law change in Scotland. 

Alan Caton, a former head of public protection with Suffolk police, spearheaded the county’s radical prostitution strategy following the Steve Wright murders 15 years ago. 

Wright killed Tania Nicol, 19, Gemma Adams, 24, Anneli Alderton, 24, Annette Nicholls, 29, and Paula Clennell, 24, between October 30 and December 10, 2006. 

Wright was found guilty of all five murders at Ipswich Crown Court on February 21, 2008, and the following day was sentenced to a whole-life tariff. 

Steve Wright was found guilty of killing five women in 2008 Picture: SUFFOLK CONSTABULARY

Steve Wright was found guilty of killing five women in 2008 Picture: SUFFOLK CONSTABULARY - Credit: Archant

In July, Wright was reportedly arrested on suspicion of the murder of teenager Vicky Hall after new information came to light. 

Mr Caton, who was awarded an OBE in 2012 for services to policing, is now calling for a Nordic-style law change in Scotland.

First introduced in Sweden in 1999, the sex buyer law reduced demand for prostitution and led to a reduction in sex trafficking. 

"There is currently a minority of men in Scotland who feel entitled to sexually exploit vulnerable women by paying them for sex," he told the Daily Record. 

“My experiences in Ipswich taught me that society must never turn a blind eye to the abuses these men are committing.

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“Men who pay for sex cause immense harms to the women they exploit, while their demand also drives a brutal sex trafficking trade.

“Prostitution is violence against women yet the law in Scotland currently gives men license to pay for sex.

“That cannot be right. It’s crucial that the law sends out the unequivocal message that paying for sex is never acceptable, and that law enforcement agencies have the powers to hold perpetrators to account.”

Ipswich murder victims; Gemma Adams, Annette Nicholls, Anneli Alderton, Tania Nicol and Paula Clenne

Ipswich murder victims; Gemma Adams, Annette Nicholls, Anneli Alderton, Tania Nicol and Paula Clennell Picture: JON ELSEY - Credit: Archant

Mr Caton said to combat violence against women, future generations of boys need to grow up in a society where they do not have a right to sexually exploit others. 

“Wright was a known sex buyer. The women knew him and felt safe with him and we know now what he was capable of," he added. 

"He killed five women in very quick succession so we know the dangers of street prostitution.

“But equally women are disproportionately likely to be raped or murdered if they sell sex on a premises.

"And as long as the purchase of sex is legal, law enforcement has its hands tied to some degree.”

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