The number of arrests for street prostitution in Scotland has nearly doubled in the last three years.
A total of 30 women and three men were charged with prostitution-related offences since January. Last year, 67 people were charged with either soliciting, loitering or importuning while selling sex on the streets in the force area, compared with
37 in 2008.
The figures, released by Lothian and Borders Police, showed that 127 arrests for either soliciting, loitering or importuning were made in 2006. The number fell to 50 the following year then 37 in 2008 before starting to climb again over the past
three years. Loitering charges are usually made when police officers observe an individual and believe they have reason to suspect they are selling sexual services.
During 2010, a total of 42 men were charged under kerb-crawling laws in Edinburgh, compared with just 23 in 2008.
Prostitute support group Scotpep said the rise in arrests may have been sparked by police acting on complaints from residents rather than a rise in the number of sex workers. Estimates made by Scotpep last year put the number of women working on
the streets at between 80 and 100.
Police chiefs said they were vigorously enforcing laws enacted in 2008 which made kerb-crawling a criminal offence and that may account for an increase in charges.
Rob Kirkwood, from the Leith Residents' Association, said: Prostitution in the Leith Links area is now practically non-existent. There was a woman working here on Tuesday night, but she was the first person I had seen in months. The rise in
arrests doesn't indicate a return to problems in Leith Links. I think it shows that the police are taking a pro-active approach to policing an issue which can devastate communities.
A law intended to criminalise men who use prostitutes has led to 43 convictions in England and Wales in its first year of operation.
Police say the law is difficult to enforce as it relies on women coming forward to give evidence of coercion.
The law, officially known as Section 53A of the 2003 Sexual Offences Act, is meant to reduce the number of men buying sex by striking fear in men lest unbeknown to them the sex worker has been coerced.
The law allows police to prosecute men who have sex with women even if they did not know the woman had been forced to work as a prostitute
Greater Manchester Deputy Chief Constable Simon Byrne, who is the Association of Chief Police Officers' lead on the issue of prostitution, said he was surprised at how many convictions there had been because the law is difficult to
Speaking to the PM programme on BBC Radio 4, Byrne said:
The whole law in relation to this particular part of policing is confusing. We are calling for a simplification.
We are looking at a range of options in dialogue with the Home Office to try and simplify things and to look at good models of practice in other parts of the world.
Acpo ludicrously claimed last year that at least 2,600 prostitutes working in brothels in England and Wales had been trafficked from abroad, almost one in 10 of the estimated 30,000 working prostitutes. But even after raiding 100's of brothels
the police can find hardly any trafficked women.
The figures are rightfully disputed by people working in the sex industry. They argue that most women are engaging in consensual sex, simply to earn money.
Niki Adams, from the English Collective of Prostitutes, says the law does not address the fundamental issues:
I don't think this law should be used at all. It undermines sex workers' safety and it targets the wrong people. It targets clients who may be involved in consenting sex rather than the rapists and traffickers who should
be targeted by the police.
Despite the police's call for clarity, the government told the BBC that it has no plans to change the law on prostitution.
Convictions under Section 53A of the Sexual Offences Act 2003 by area:
Fiona Patten is the leader of the Australian Sex Party, a political group that emerged in 2009 as a response to what the party described as the sexual needs of Australians living in the 21st century. Among other
political flagships, her party has campaigned against sex slavery, for the development of sex education in schools and also for a new classification for adult material.
As a long-time campaigner on behalf of the sex industry, Fiona Patten criticises Britain's legal stance regarding sex work, and calls for a deep legal reform.
A BBC investigation has that found up to £ 500,000 every week is spent on prostitution in the North, while the Northern Ireland police estimate there are 88 brothels in operation. Cue predictable outrage
from every quarter. Presumably, the figures south of the border are even higher.
According to the BBC, Many of the women working in the brothels have been trafficked from abroad. They are held captive and forced into prostitution. Sensational stuff, eh? Images of hundreds of dark ladies held in manacles, unshackled
only to perform their immoral services, spring to mind.
Examine the fine print, however, and you discover that the average number of women in each of these brothels is not 25 or 50 but just 2, practically a cottage industry, in other words. So there are 170-odd whores in the North, not counting those
who work the streets, servicing an adult male population of something like 700,000? Well, blow me down.