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Victimless Crime

Duration:
43 minutes
First broadcast:
Wednesday 19 March 2014

Is there such a thing as a victimless crime? This issue is at the heart of two campaigns that have been attracting a lot of coverage recently. At the moment the sale and purchase of sex is legal in Britain, but there's a growing demand to criminalise those who pay for sexual services. We are also seeing around the world calls to legalise the use of cannabis for personal use. The definition of a "victim" in both cases is complex and contested, but how should we use the law in these circumstances when there's a conflict between individual liberty and the policing of social norms and harms? Since 1960 laws criminalising homosexuality, suicide and blasphemy have all been consigned to history. Is that the way it should be In a liberal progressive society? Or should we and the state take a much more robust view of harm and listen more to the voices of victims, extending principles like "hate crimes" in the law?

Combative, provocative and engaging debate chaired by Michael Buerk with Claire Fox, Michael Portillo, Giles Fraser, Anne McElvoy.

Witnesses are Ian Driver, Sean Gabb, Kathy Gyngell and Finn Mackay.

Produced by Phil Pegum.

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