Good news, the Justice Secretary has contacted me about my campaign to outlaw ‘sex for rent’. This is where sexual predators, in places like our where there is a housing crisis, offer free accommodation in return for sex. It’s disgusting and exploitative of vulnerable people, particularly the young.

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I wrote to the Justice Secretary, David Liddington, and also tracked him down after a vote in the Commons and had an informal conversation about it to update him on what was happening. I have to give credit to him because he listened, was concerned, and this week has been in touch with me for an update.

The Justice Department believes they can apply the Sexual Offences Act of 2003 to this situation. It would carry a 7 year prison sentence for those who exploit people in this way in return for sex.

I’m really pleased about this and also that Sussex Police have said they will start to enforce this and arrest and charge people committing the offence. Potentially vulnerable people will have extra protection as a result of this, it’s something we should be proud of.

I now want to see an arrest for this to be tested in the courts. I want to have clarification about which law enforcement agency will lead on detection and prevention (this is a nationwide issue). And finally, I have written to the major websites hosting these adverts to point out to them that they are hosting criminal activity and although they are not breaking the law they have a moral responsibility to stop these adverts being published and to report those to try to post them to the police.

I found out about this from a journalist at BBC South-East Today and I thank Lauren Moss for her brilliant investigative journalism – it’s a credit to what good journalism can achieve, and, I hope, an MP that cares too!! Yours, Peter

PS to those who have direct messaged me since the election, I am still catching up on them and promise to respond personally to your messages here as soon as I can, thanks for being patient. As always, if your message is urgent then email is always best

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