MOTORISTS convicted of attempting to pick up prostitutes could be banned from driving as part of a new crackdown on kerb crawling by Scotland’s law officers.
• ‘Kerb crawlers’ could lose their driving licences under new order
• Solicitor General says the guidelines are aimed at protecting the vulnerable and targeting abusers
• More than 200 Scots faced court action for offences associated with prostitution during 2011-12
Under new guidance issued to police chiefs, kerb crawlers could have their licences seized in addition to any sentences handed out by the courts.
Scotland’s Solicitor General Lesley Thomson said bans for motorists, similar to disqualifications for drink driving, were needed to reduce prostitution, which she described as an “insidious form of abuse”.
The crackdown comes after it emerged that more than 200 Scots faced court action for offences associated with prostitution during 2011-12, with crimes including loitering and soliciting in a public place.
Ms Thomson said: “Prostitution represents an insidious form of abuse.
“The Lord Advocate’s guidelines are aimed at protecting the vulnerable and targeting the abusers.
“Our objectives are to tackle the risk of sexual and physical abuse of women and men and to address the significant nuisance and potential danger for the communities in which prostitution takes place.
“We continually monitor and review our prosecution policies with the police and other members of the criminal justice system to ensure they continue to meet the public interest.”
The crackdown was welcomed by MSPs and one of Scotland’s most senior police officers. Chief Superintendent David O’Connor, president of the Association of Scottish Police Superintendents, said: “It’s a type of approach that could deter this kind of antisocial behaviour.
“This type of problem is an issue in some areas and I’m sure these powers will be used when necessary and proportionately.”
Labour MSP Lewis Macdonald said: “If people are convicted for offences while driving then I’ve no difficulty with the law been used in that way.
“If the Solicitor General is issuing guidance to courts then that’s significant and, in principle, using motoring bans in this way is fair and significant.”
However, Tory MSP Margaret Mitchell warned that seizing the driving licences of those convicted of kerb crawling could have harmful consequences.
She said: “We would have to look at the context of an offence as taking somebody’s licence away could have all kinds of consequences and could affect their job and ability to provide for their family.
“There are other ways to address this type of offending and we need to look at the circumstances of each case.”