I must apologise for the distinct lack of blogging recently but my timetable as been rather full! However I thought you may be interested in the current Plymouth City Council consultation regarding proposals for Sexual Encounter Establishments. In my opinion the new guidelines will close the 2 existing lap dancing clubs in Plymouth and merely encourage more underground sexual establishments resulting in more crime/abuse in the long term. I personally have always felt that brothels should be legalised so they can be monitored more fully by local services. Anyway, here is the letter I just submitted to the licensing department and I will let you know what response I get:
I am writing in reference to the Policing and Crime Bill and the new guidelines for 'Sexual Encounter Establishments' that relate to the white paper.
I have copied my local MP Oliver Colvile in on this e-mail as there are issues contained within this e-mail that I would like him to be aware of.
My comments relate to to following on-line document:
I should explain that I currently run a Pole Dance Community approved fitness pole dancing school (The art of dance). We already work with both the City Councils sports and development unit as well as the Governments change for life initiative. I want to ensure that people are educated about the differences between pole dancing as a fitness and exotic pole dancing that may be used as a pre-cursor to a sexual act.
I do not work at a lap dancing club but do work with some individuals who do and am very aware of the issues that concern these workers.
Firstly I must question how the proposals aim to achieve the following and to question the statistics surrounding crime linked to sexual encounter establishments. I would imagine, as with speed cameras, that crimes linked to such establishments are recorded and that this information is publicly available?
• The prevention of crime and disorder
• The protection of safety, health or public decency
• The prevention of nuisance
• The protection from children from harm
• Protecting the nature, amenity and character of a neighbourhood
With regards to the information below, these measures are already accounted for in the licensing application process so I am unsure how new legislation/guidelines will alter or improve the existing process?
• Use of appropriate numbers of security personal and stewards ensuring effective
controls at all times
• Training staff in crime prevention measures
• Membership requirements
• Use of CCTV inside and outside premises, ensuring digital systems comply with Home
Office guidance minimum requirements.
• Quality of supervision and surveillance in premises
• Regular checks by staff of all public areas including toilets
• Assessment of customer profile ensuring effective management of customers both
inside premises and in outside smoking / external seating areas
• Anti-discriminatory policies and practice covering e.g. homophobia and racism
• Awareness of drink spiking
• Zero tolerance drug policies including the appropriate use of searching/amnesty boxes
to combat drug crime
• Active participation in club/pub watch schemes
In particular there are several elements of the new guidelines that I must bring into question as they may have a knock on effect to my business:
• The external appearance and advertising of the business, e.g. no sexually explicit material
What will be classed as sexually explicit? The current policing and crime bill uses vague terms such as semi nudity. I am concerned that images of pole dancers that I use for promotional material may be restricted under the new guidelines and need to know how distinctions will be made.
“Any live performance or any live display of nudity which is of such a nature that, ignoring financial
gain, it must reasonably be assumed to be provided solely or principally for the purpose of sexually
stimulating any member of the audience (whether by verbal or other means). An audience includes
an audience of one”
I am concerned about this vague definition of what it is to sexually stimulate? As I carry out more than 12 pole dancing performances at my establishment and other venues during the year to a mixed audience of both men and women could my business fall under this restricted category?
Will the legislation extend to clubs/bars who have poles installed for customer use?
How will the rules apply to burlesque performances that include elements of striptease?
I do appreciate that the document does detail what it classes as nudity:
“A display of nudity” means:
(a) In the case of a woman, exposure of her nipples, pubic area, genitals or anus; and
(b) In the case of a man, exposure of his pubic area, genitals or anus;
However this wording would still allow an exotic dancer to perform wearing a string bikini and thong without the need for any restrictions?
The wording, I assume, may also restrict theatre performances where nudity may be involved such as the recent Theatre Royal performance 'Puppetry of the penis'?
Whilst I appreciate it is unlikely that any aspect of this process will negatively effect my business I am also worried that this process will effectively shut lap dancing clubs in Plymouth as the 2 existing clubs will not be able to afford the new, more expensive licenses and extensive conditions imposed upon them. I believe the resulting effect will be more girls pushed into the many illegal brothels operating within the city to replace their current revenue streams. As brothels are not monitored by the council the new licensing could actually see more incidences of crime and sexual abuse in the long term.
I look forward to hearing your response and would like to be kept informed of any decisions or updates regarding the current consultation.
Thank you for your time.
More news to follow on my attempts at aerial hoop, Becca Butcher master-class, Equity Pole Dancers working party, Art of dance student gradings and Pole Jam with PDC Level 3 pole dancing instructor Elena Gibson.