This is an archived section of the Scottish Government website. External links, forms and search may not work on archived pages and content/contact details are likely to be out of date.


Prostitution damages lives and corrodes the well being of communities caught up in it. Those who may be tempted to leave the comfort of their homes and families to seek to buy sex on Scotland's streets should be clear that they face prosecution, a £1,000 fine and a criminal record, as well as the shame and exposure in front of their friends and family.

These penalties are set out in the Prostitution (Public Places) (Scotland) Act 2007, which was introduced to change the perverse situation where men soliciting or loitering to buy sex could not be prosecuted while women soliciting or loitering to sell sex could.

The other offence provisions in relation to street prostitution are set out in the Civic Government (Scotland) Act 1982. Those relating to the procuring of and trading in prostitution and brothel-keeping are contained in the Criminal Law (Consolidation) (Scotland) Act 1995 . The Protection of Children and Prevention of Sexual Offences (Scotland) Act 2005 contains a number of specific provision relating to child prostitution and the trafficking of human beings for the purposes of exploitation by way of prostitution is an offence under the Criminal Justice (Scotland) Act 2003. In addition, the Sexual Offences (Scotland) Act 2009 creates a statutory offence of sexual coercion which makes it an offence to force or coerce someone else to engage in any sexual activity. More generally, the Act provides that any sexual activity which takes place without consent ('free agreement') is a criminal offence.

The Scottish Government recognises that the criminal law, alone is not sufficient to tackle the complex problem of street prostitution. That requires a holistic approach which addresses all aspects of the problem. It is for this reason that we have issued Guidance for local authorities and their community planning partners - including health boards, police forces and local community and voluntary groups to help them to tackle prostitution.