Government accused of “pimping”

jobcenter.jpgBy David Barrett | Women and girls may be lured into prostitution by adverts placed in Jobcentres, MPs were warned today. A charity which helps females rescued from the sex trade said the Government was acting as a “pimp” by accepting ads for strippers, escort girls, lap dancers and adult show hostesses.

Director of the Poppy Project, Denise Marshall, told the Commons’ Home Affairs Select Committee: “We have had contact with two 17-year-olds who have gone into the Jobcentre and it brought up a number of vacancies.

“Their mother and older sister contacted us because they were so distressed that this had happened.”

The computer system in the labour exchanges does not ask applicants to confirm their age, she added.

“Because no-one is monitoring it, you don’t know who is using it.

“And when you are offering £20 an hour to be a webcam stripper to a 17-year-old, the chances are they may be naive,” she said.

Outside the hearing, Ms Marshall said: “It’s the Government as pimp. It’s just dreadful.

“I’m appalled that the Government is giving women entree into the commercial sex industry.”

Ms Marshall said she was not aware of any examples of women becoming involved in prostitution as a result of the vacancies being advertised in Jobcentres.

“It hasn’t happened yet, but it will,” she said.

“The jobs included stripper, webcam stripper, adult show hostess, lap dancing and work with an escort agency.”

A member of staff from the Poppy Project had accessed the adverts in a number of Jobcentres around London, she said, despite the organisation’s protests to the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP), which runs the network.

News of the explicit job ads first emerged last year.

The DWP insisted that it was legally obliged to carry the vacancies after a test case brought by the Ann Summer sex shop chain in 2003.

A High Court judge ruled that Jobcentres must carry advertisements for legal work in the “sex and personal-services industries”.