Page last updated at 14:31 GMT, Monday, 15 October 2007 15:31 UK

Kerb-crawler law comes into force

Glasgow prostitute
The new laws leave kerb-crawlers facing fines of up to £1,000

Legislation which makes kerb-crawling a criminal offence has come into force across Scotland.

Anyone looking to pick up a prostitute will face a fine of up to £1,000.

Until now, the law in Scotland has criminalised those selling sex on the streets and largely ignored those who demand their services.

Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill said it corrects an unfair legal position, although it has led to the scrapping of a tolerance zone in Aberdeen.

The Prostitution (Public Places) (Scotland) Act 2007, passed by parliament in February, criminalises soliciting a prostitute for sex and loitering for the same purpose.

The Scottish Government is also working with Westminster to ensure that in future the courts will have the power to disqualify offenders from driving.

Those who leave their comfortable homes to exploit the vulnerable women on our streets will rightly face the full force of the law
Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill

Mr MacAskill said the law showed that the SNP administration would not turn a blind eye to the people who sustain and fuel an "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," he said.

He added: "Those who leave their comfortable homes to exploit the vulnerable women on our streets, without a thought for the damage they do, will rightly face the full force of the law."

In Aberdeen, police announced that the legislation meant the end of the street prostitute management zone which has operated in the city's harbour area since 2001.

It follows discussions with the local procurator fiscal and other agencies.

"In light of the new legislation, it was decided the tolerance zone was not legally sustainable and had run its course," a Grampian Police spokesman said.

"Officers will patrol the area and stop any vehicle or individuals they consider to be there for the purposes of obtaining the services of a prostitute."

'Anti-social behaviour'

Personal details of those stopped could be noted and they would be "educated" about the new laws, the spokesman added.

Individuals may also be reported to the procurator fiscal.

Assistant Chief Constable John Neilson, of the Association of Chief Police Officers in Scotland (Acpos), welcomed the new laws.

People have started changing how they work already because a lot of guys aren't sure when the legislation came in
Yvonne
A prostitute in Glasgow

"I think the many communities and businesses that have been blighted by the anti-social behaviour that kerb-crawlers create will also be relieved that we have the power to arrest persons who loiter in their areas, often accosting ordinary members of the public as they go about their daily lives," he said.

Jan Macleod, of the Women's Support Project, said it was the first Scottish legislation to challenge directly the demand from men to buy sex.

"It sends out the important message that it is this demand to buy sex which is the root cause of prostitution," she said.

Yvonne, a prostitute in Glasgow, told the BBC Scotland news website the law was already having an impact.

She said: "People have started changing how they work already because a lot of guys aren't sure when the legislation came in.

"They are going out of areas that they usually work in because clients don't want to risk coming into what we call the drag area [Glasgow's red light district] where the cameras are."

video and audio news
Watch reaction to the new law



SEE ALSO
City's prostitution zone scrapped
15 Oct 07 |  North East/N Isles
'Girls will now take more risks'
15 Oct 07 |  Scotland
Kerb-crawler bill passed by MSPs
28 Feb 07 |  Scotland
Backing for kerb-crawlers penalty
06 Feb 07 |  Scotland
Restrictions on buying sex backed
17 Jan 07 |  Scotland

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