The impact of adult entertainment on rape statistics in Camden: a re-analysis.

In 2003, an anti sex work research organisation (Lilith Research and Development, a subsidiary project of Eaves Women’s Aid) published research equating the opening of Lap Dancing clubs to an increase in reported rape. The research stated that after lap dancing clubs opened in Camden, reported rape increased by 50%. A few years later the Guardian published an update, there was a mathematical error and the rape rate had only increased by 30%.  As with all research, once the headlines have been released, these headlines will always be quoted by those wanting to win their argument.  The 50% figure is still used in propaganda packs by the anti sex work groups.

Brooke L Magnanti, PhD. (Belle de Jour) has revisited this research with a different finding, looking at a longer time period, and comparing the Camden statistics with other London boroughs and national reported rape statistics. Reported rape has actually decreased.  She has written a paper titled  The impact of adult entertainment on rape statistics in Camden:a re-analysis.

Her comments on looking at a greater set of data, and comparing the Camden data with Lambeth, Islington and nationally is best said in her own words.

If a cause-and-effect relationship between the number of lap dancing clubs and the occurrence of rape existed, we would expect Lambeth to be lowest of the three because it has no clubs. By the same assumption we would expect Islington to be higher because it has a couple, and Camden highest because it has more than those other boroughs. The analysis however shows that Camden is consistently the lowest of the three. The results do not support a causal link between the number of lap dancing clubs in a borough and the risk of rape.

The trend for the three London boroughs shows that Lambeth (with no lap dancing) and Islington (with only 2 clubs) both have rates that are higher than Camden’s. It also demonstrates that all three have decreased over time, while the trend in England and Wales over the same time period has been for a rise. Apart from the early 2000s peak, Camden’s numbers are similar to the overall rate for England and Wales, and are sometimes below it. In the original report it was claimed that Camden’s rapes were “three times the national average,” and this has been reported elsewhere. This new analysis shows that statement is not true at any point within the studied time period.

Studying the figures Brooke supplies, there is a drop in reported rape in Camden, other that for the three years immediatly after 1999.  Overall the London boroughs have a reduction in reported rape, which goes against the National figures which show a rise.

I expect the incorrectly interpreted Lilith research will continue to be used by those who want to close down lap dancing clubs.  The figure of 50% increase in rapes will continue to be published in newspaper reports, and used in publicity by the ant sex work groups.

Brookes interpretation (which is not new, a report  by Bill Martland was sent to parliament in 1998 ) is important, because I expect Lilith’s findings were used to help persuade Hackney council to go for a nil policy for sex work establishments.  Object still publish the discredited 50% increase in reported rapes on their website.    It is important to debunk these figures with real interpretations of actual data.  There have been many reports stating these figures were grossly wrong, but as you can see the anti sex work groups of Eaves, Object and the Fawcett Society are still peddling them.

Where ever they publish these misrepresentations they must be targeted to withdraw them.

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6 Responses to “The impact of adult entertainment on rape statistics in Camden: a re-analysis.”

  1. admin says:

    This report got me interested, and I saw a newspaper report from Newquay which claims that sexual assults in the town decreased after opening lap dancing clubs. As each new one opened, the assults reduced.

    Using the newly collated figures after 2002 the total number of recorded sexual assaults in the Newquay sector (Newquay town, St Columb Minor, St Columb Major, Newquay, Treloggan and Edgcumbe), peaked at 71 in 2005 and then took a sharp dive to 51 the following year, 2006. Sexual assault figures include reports of rape, indecent assault, sexual assault, and other miscellaneous sexual offences.
    2006 was when Newquay’s first lap dance club, Teasers, opened on Tolcarne Road.
    In 2007, when Divas – the town’s second lap dancing venue opened – the total number of recorded sexual assaults fell by another ten to 41, then by 14 more to 27 the following year when Halos opened.
    In 2009, the number rose slightly, but, at a total of 33 offences, the statistics remain at less than half the total before the clubs emerged.

  2. Gus Lotter says:

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  3. Luke says:

    Great post. Establishing that there is any kind of connection between the opening of lap-dancing clubs and the incidence of rape is obviously difficult. You would need to show that the two variables are significantly correlated in the appropriate direction across many contexts (e.g. many towns) and over a long period of time (e.g. many decades). Any local correlation (in some particular town or district) could well be the result of chance, so you have to find out the background variability of each variable, to ensure that their apparent connection is a genuine pattern in the data. To have any real confidence that there is some *causal* relation responsible for the correlation you would need to run some kind of experiment – e.g. open lap-dancing clubs in a sufficiently large, representative and randomly assigned sample of towns, and monitor the resulting rape incidence over a sufficiently long period of time. Until any of this is done, social policy aimed at affecting rape incidence by legislating lap-dancing clubs is obviously premature. Perhaps the legislation is driven by other motivations.

  4. […] But it isn’t always the media’s fault (Poor media, always gets blamed for everything). Sometimes it’s the fault of science itself and those who are producing these studies. Does anyone expect an anti-XYZ organisation to produce any results other than those that prove XYZ is very bad and should be stopped, banned or made illegal? Everybody seems to lie and fit the facts to suit their own agenda. The problem is when they do this with the assistance of the scientific method it becomes harder to spot. […]

  5. […] to expand on this. Object’s track record for statistics has not been glowing, with its use of debunked research to support its causes such as the miscalculation that lap-dancing clubs triggered an increase in rape. Nor did Object […]

  6. […] these claims. No provable correlation has been found between strip clubs and sexual offences and a previous report to that effect was shown to be misleading. Last year, objections to an application for the renewal […]