Scots Prostitution Bill To Be Toughened

The Scottish Executive has confirmed it will toughen up legislation against kerb crawlers following criticism from a Holyrood committee.

The Prostitution Bill, which will be debated in parliament at stage one, will criminalise the buyer for the first time.

A loitering offence will be extended to cover kerb crawlers who have the intention of buying sex.

The maximum penalty for clients will also be doubled to £1,000.

The bill was previously criticised by the local government and transport committee, which claimed the wording would mean clients in private cars would not be prosecuted.

The committee also called for tougher sentencing for kerb crawlers, with the onus put firmly on the buyer rather than the sex worker.

George Lyon, the deputy minister for finance and parliamentary business, admitted that prostitution was a complex problem, which could not be resolved by legislation alone.

However, he said the new laws were the best way forward.

Mr Lyon added: “We have taken the unprecedented step of taking a tough approach to target those who create the demand. This bill will send a clear signal that we consider their behaviour unacceptable and it will help protect the communities affected by street prostitution.

“Only by tackling the demand can we reduce the number of women who become involved in street prostitution and increase the level and support for women wanting a route out prostitution.”

Minister for Finance and Public Service Reform Tom McCabe confirmed that following concerns raised by members of the local government committee, amendments would be proposed.

“The committee also have concerns about the operation of informal management zones,” he added.

“I am pleased that the Crown Office and the Association of Chief Police Officers have indicated they would review enforcement policy and practice, including the operation of any managed zones, such as the one in Aberdeen, in light of any new offence passed by the Scottish Parliament.”

The executive has also produced guidance for local authorities on how to tackle prostitution at a local level and help women find viable alternatives.