News In Focus
New act targets kerb crawlers
New legislation which comes into effect today will target kerb crawlers as well as those selling sex.
But the Prostitution (Public Places) Scotland Act 2007 passed by MSPs in February will also result in the end of the prostitution tolerance zone in Aberdeen, a move safety campaigners fear will lead to more attacks on prostitutes.
The act criminalises those who solicit the services of someone engaged in prostitution and those loitering for the same purpose.
The Scottish Government is also working with Westminister to give courts the power to disqualify kerb crawlers from driving.
Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill said: "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.
"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."
Aberdeen has the only prostiution tolerance zone in the UK. The quarter-mile long zone is in the harbour area and was established to keep prostitutes away from other areas of the city and help women involved in the sex industry, particularly those who are addicted to drugs.
Grampian Police decided the tolerance zone was not legally sustainable with the new legislation and officers will now stop vehicles and individuals in the area if they think they are trying to buy or sell sex.
Janice Jess from the Grampian Addiction Problem Service opposes the end of the tolerance zone. She said such a move would drive the women underground and put them at greater risk of attack or worse.