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Last Updated: Thursday, 13 November, 2003, 06:22 GMT
Council considers vice clampdown
Red light zone
Councillors are considering how best to deal with prostitution
Prostitutes in Edinburgh could be banned from residential areas under plans being considered by the city council.

Councillors are meeting in the capital on Thursday to decide whether to introduce anti-social behaviour orders.

But they are concerned that such a course of action could move the problem to other parts of the city.

Edinburgh had a form of tolerance zone for prostitutes from 1985 to 2001.

But since the zone was abandoned, prostitutes have been displaced throughout the city and members of the public have complained of an increase in contraceptives, syringes and needles in parks.

Bill defeated

Residents in Leith have also complained that some streets have become "no-go areas" after dark.

Chairman of the local residents association Rob Kirkwood said: "Any woman out after about eight o'clock was seen by many of the kerb-crawlers as a woman on the game."

Councillors are expected to discuss the merits of anti-social behaviour orders and bringing in neighbourhood wardens to ensure women are not working in residential areas.

Mark Turley, Edinburgh City Council director of housing
Anti-social behaviour orders are not punishment, they simply state conditions that people have to adhere to
Mark Turley
Director of housing
Mark Turley, the council's director of housing, said he would like to recreate the tolerance zone, but that the situation had moved on.

"People are not tolerant of this in the current environment in Leith," he said.

"Anti-social behaviour orders are not punishment, they simply state conditions that people have to adhere to, and providing people adhere to those conditions then they don't face criminal action at all."

Independent MSP Margo MacDonald is reintroducing her bill seeking to allow councils to set up prostitution tolerance zones.

'Increased danger'

Despite a parliamentary defeat in February for her Prostitute Tolerance Zones (Scotland) Bill, the MSP said it was time to forget ideology and start managing the problem of street prostitution with common sense.

Prostitutes' support group Scotpep said that since the tolerance zone in Edinburgh was abandoned, attacks on women had increased from 11 last year to 54 so far this year.

Scotpep's Ruth Morgan-Thomas said: "There is clear evidence from England that anti-social behaviour orders do not prevent people from engaging in sex work and street prostitution.

"And that those women will be put in even more dangerous situations and their vulnerability to violence increased."

BBC Scotland's Elizabeth Quigley reports
"The council says it has to take action"

Return for red light bill
09 Sep 03  |  Scotland
Red light bill thrown out
27 Feb 03  |  Scotland
Prostitution law change urged
13 Feb 03  |  Scotland
Red light or green for zones
29 Oct 02  |  Scotland
Vice zones plan moves forward
29 Oct 02  |  Scotland

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