Fear over safety of prostitutes with ban on kerb-crawling

PROSTITUTES will be put in more danger as a result of new legislation that from today prohibits kerb-crawling in Scotland, it was claimed last night.

Under the Prostitution (Public Places) Scotland Act, anyone caught soliciting for sex from a prostitute, as well as those "loitering for the same purpose", will be fined up to 1,000 and be given a criminal record.

The Scottish Government is also having talks with officials in Westminster over introducing powers to ban offenders from driving - currently available south of the Border - to courts in Scotland.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

The law has criminalised only those selling sex on the streets, unlike in England where kerb-crawling has been an offence for more than 20 years.

Kenny MacAskill, the justice secretary, said the law will "no longer turn a blind eye" to those who fuel the sex trade, but critics last night claimed it will drive prostitution further underground and expose street-workers to more dangers.

Margo MacDonald, the independent MSP for Lothians, said: "The original criterion for the legislation was for better management of prostitution, but this won't do that at all. All that will happen is that sexual services will continue to be offered, but it will be done away from areas where people are likely to be stopped."

The number of recorded attacks on prostitutes in Edinburgh soared by 500 per cent after the abolition of the city's prostitution tolerance zone. Ms MacDonald said this highlighted the danger of driving prostitution underground.

"This new law will just make the problem even worse," she said.

But Mr MacAskill said the legislation was right. "This new approach to the problem of street prostitution shows we will not turn a blind eye to the people who sustain and fuel this exploitative trade," he said.

"It corrects an unfair legal position where only those engaged in prostitution could be targeted, while the kerb-crawlers demanding their services - often harassing the wider community in the process - get off scot-free."

Assistant Chief Constable John Neilson, spokesman for the Association of Chief Police Officers in Scotland, said: "This is a welcome piece of legislation and an effective tool for us to use in areas where there is a known prostitution problem."

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

See an interview with George Lewis, Chair of ScotPep a sex workers support charity >>