In the early hours of Saturday 1 September a historic arrest took place at a phone booth in Harrowby Street W1.
New Development: Introduction of new law criminoduction of new law criminalising "tart cards"
Background: as previously reported in marketing law, for some years now regulators have been grappling with the problem of "tart cards": cards promoting prostitutes’ services displayed in telephone boxes. Several unsuccessful attempts have been made to prevent this practice by way of prosecutions under existing law, and this has led to a move for new law specifically targeted on the practice.
What has changed
Since 1st September 2001, it has been a criminal offence to place an advertisement relating to prostitution on or in the immediate vicinity of a public telephone. The penalty is up to six months in prison or a fine of up to £5,000. "Public telephone" is defined as any telephone located in a public place and made available for use by the public or a section of the public. Also included within the "public telephone" definition will be any structure such as a kiosk, booth, acoustic hood, or shelter which the telephone is located in or attached to.
What is more, in the future the government may decide to extend the scope of these rules beyond telephone boxes altogether. The Criminal Justice and Police Act 2001 (the statute by which these new rules have been brought into force) states that at any point in the future the Secretary of State may decree that any other designated public structure should be treated in the same way as a public telephone for the purposes of these regulations.
The first reported arrest under the new regulations took place less than two hours after the new law came into force. At 01:45 hours on 1 September 2001, in Harrowby Street, W1, Westminster City Council officers spotted a twenty year old engaged in the newly nefarious activity and promptly 'nicked' him.