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Action is needed

Your report ‘Election bungle letter tried to deflect critics (Evening Advertiser 18 December) is most concerning.

When the Highworth election mistake was revealed, I felt that this was something so serious that the Swindon Borough Council chief executive/electoral returning officer should have considered her position and resigned. Amazingly, nothing happened. Then just before the General Election, this was followed up by the letter sent in error to many constituents in Swindon to tell them that they were no longer eligible to vote. I know that this caused considerable concern and worry to those who received this letter. Now, from your report, it appears that the chief executive is quite happy to hide behind her staff regarding the apology for this serious mistake.

One mistake might have been excusable but two such serious errors within six months of each other has to be a resigning matter. If not, then the elected Conservative administration of the borough must take appropriate action regarding the continuing employment of the chief executive.

Tony Mayer, Wheatlands, Haydon Wick

A flawed policy

Not for the first time the Police and Crime Commissioner Angus Macpherson states that Wiltshire Police has a policy of “trying to avoid arresting and actively prosecuting sex workers” (SA, December 18). He just can’t bring himself to use the word ‘prostitute’- presumably for fear of causing offence.

The PCC uses the narrative of ‘exploitation’ to defend women who engage in the activity of street sex work which your reporter acknowledges as being “a feature of the Swindon sex trade”. Mr Macpherson makes it quite clear the police take a totally different view of “punters’ - he does so as he knows this supports and reinforces the popular stereotypical myth that if men didn’t pay, there would be no women on the streets. Using the same flawed thinking PCCs and some senior police officers believe that if you legalise drug use it will mysteriously result in a society free of drug abuse.

A year ago you published a letter in which I challenged the PCC and the police to address the root cause of on street prostitution. The Sex Workers Outreach Project, which has been operating on the streets of Swindon since 2013 has not resulted in the prosecution of a ‘Mr Big’ or a ‘pimp’, and until the head is cut off the awful spectre of street prostitution will continue in the town. And before he recites the tedious litany of requiring proof and the unwillingness of the exploited women to name names – we have heard that line for time immemorial.

Criminalising sex workers is something Wiltshire Police will not do, so says the police officer tasked with tackling sex exploitation in Swindon.

The only problem with this statement is that it is not in the gift of the police to determine what is a criminal offence, their job is to uphold the law – something they promise to do “with fairness, integrity, diligence and impartiality........and faithfully according to law”.

Sex workers or prostitutes will be breaking the law if they attempt to solicit or wait for custom in a public place, including on streets, in alleyways or within discreet public areas.

It is not in the gift of Wiltshire police to de-criminalise what the law states is a criminal act, and it might be said that in turning a blind eye to the criminal behaviour of the sex worker, particularly if such a decision is influenced by the paucity of the sanction of £100, the police are failing to act impartially or in accordance with the law.

Des Morgan, Caraway Drive, Swindon

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