The Effect of Different Police Enforcement Policies on the Control of Prostitution

E. Nick Larsen, “The Effect of Different Police Enforcement Policies on the Control of Prostitution” Canadian Public Policy / Analyse de Politiques, Vol. 22, No. 1 (Mar., 1996), pp. 40-55


This article conducts a comparative analysis of prostitution control in four Canadian cities using police enforcement policies as the independent variable. Most recent Canadian prostitution research has centred on assessing the adequacy of the existing law, and the majority of analysts have concluded that most prostitution offences ought to be decriminalized. However, the analysis in this article assumes that the law is unlikely to be changed in the near future, and instead argues that Canadian police already possess sufficient legal discretion to decide when and where they will enforce the law. The article conducts a qualitative analysis of police enforcement policies (in Vancouver, Edmonton, Winnipeg and Toronto) ranging from strict enforcement of the law against prostitutes, customers and both prostitutes and customers through to various forms of selective toleration and negotiation among the various affected groups. Based on this analysis, the writer concludes that the most effective way of reducing both the nuisance and the political conflict associated with prostitution involves selective toleration, combined with negotiation between prostitutes and other affected groups. The article concludes with a feminist oriented discussion of the reasons why attempts to suppress prostitution will not work and why the prostitutes themselves must be part of any discussions regarding the control of prostitution.

Full text (in English) available here.

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