An Expert Group was charged to look at the legal, policing, health and social justice issues surrounding prostitution in Scotland and to consider options for the future. Their first meeting took place in 2003.
Chaired by former Assistant Chief Constable of Strathclyde Police Sandra Hood OBE, the group membership included people with expertise from the fields of medicine, academia, the legal profession, health and local authorities, and voluntary and charitable organisations.
At the end of 2004, the first report from the Expert Group on Prostitution was published. For more information read: Being Outside - Constucting a Response to Street Prostitution
Key proposals included:
- Instead of the current law on soliciting, there should be a new legal focus on 'offensive behaviour or conduct' applicable to either the person buying or selling sexual services
- there would be no need for statutory 'tolerance zones' where criminalisation of soliciting is suspended
- suggested that local authorities may wish to consider the need for non-statutory 'managed areas' for street prostitution to minimise the overall impact on communities, confine public nuisance to a specified area, discourage clients from searching for women elsewhere, provide safety in numbers for the women involved and make it easier to provide services to them to exit prostitution
Other recommendations included:
- Creating a national framework, setting out the general approach which local authorities should adopt in responding to street prostitution
- Placing a requirement on local authorities and agencies to draw up local implementation plans to respond to the wide range of issues involved in street prostitution, including the impact on those involved and the community
- Implementing national and local initiatives to educate the public about prostitution and the associated risks
- Using the new legal emphasis on public nuisance or offence to cover kerb crawling, rather than making this a specific offence