chapter  7
19 Pages

The Report

When the inevitable pressure came from the Home Office for the report to be published, Wolfenden grumbled that, ‘the committee had a rather depressing tendency to change its collective mind about points that seemed to be settled’.1 As for the testimony of ‘experts’ in whose knowledge he had expressed so much confidence, he declared himself to be disillusioned. ‘One of our difficulties is to get at facts. A lot of people have views and are prepared to make generalised statements which are not substantiated when you begin to examine them.’2 There is some irony in this remark, as there is little evidence to show that he tried to verify anything, and he was given to making unsubstantiated statements of his own. Mrs Cohen was equally disenchanted, complaining that ‘they had not found out anything about anything’, while collectively the group discussed the nature of the ‘humbug’ that the solicitation laws represented. Wolfenden commented: ‘Where exactly is the “humbug”? I am still groping here. If it is said that the “annoyance” caused by prostitutes is quantitatively different from that caused by anybody else, the humbug then exists, does it not, in pretending in law that the annoyance is the same?’3 The quantity and quality of the annoyance involved were a continual point of issue, as the justification for harsher penalties rested upon the argument that this particular form of annoyance was much greater than other forms, but without the committee getting trapped into admitting that it was related to communal moral values.