Former Birmingham Mail editor Steve Dyson is stepping up his campaign for sex ads to be banned by regional newspapers. Writing today on his blog, hosted by HoldtheFrontPage, Dyson challenges the claim by the Newspaper Society that the police don't want the sex ads banned. The NS was quoted by journalism.co.uk, on the question of banning ads,stating "some newspapers are being actively discouraged from doing this by their local police forces to avoid driving this underground". Dyson asks: "Are they? Does anyone out there have any actual example – not just hearsay – of a police force asking a newspaper to continue printing adverts that it suspects are for sexual services? And if newspapers are knowingly doing that, are they not aiding and abetting solicitation? Or has this request gone higher, with the group boardrooms at Northcliffe, Johnston Press, Trinity Mirror et al considering and granting official requests from senior boys in blue? I don't think so. "But even if unofficial conversations from vice squads at a local level have taken place and have indicated a preference for a 'blind eye' to further investigations, is that really the reason why some newspaper groups are agreeing to illegally help vulnerable women sell sex? Or is it more of a dirty excuse for continuing a torrid affair that some bosses want to continue because it's worth a large wad of banknotes, albeit somewhat soiled? Because I just don't believe that the ads would be continuing if they weren't worth it to the bottom line of these companies." Dyson suggests the Surrey Mirror and Leatherhead Advertiser should set an investigative reporter onto some of the sex adverts that appear in their newspapers. He also says that from now on all the newspapers he reviews on his blog will carry a 'sex ad rating'.
I am a freelance journalist based in the UK and was deputy editor of Press Gazette, the journalists' magazine, from 1993 until 2006. I want to give an independent view on media matters.
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