Progress on tackling prostitution

Key steps in development of new model for Scotland.

An expert group to help design the fundamental principles of a new model to challenge men’s demand for prostitution met for the first time today.

The short life working group, comprising key public bodies and third sector representatives, will ensure equality, human rights and women’s safety are at the heart of the new Scottish Government model.

The model aims to reduce stigma and criminalisation experienced by women and encourage better access to services and support.

The membership of the short life working group includes representatives from key bodies including COSLA, the NHS and Public Health Scotland.

Third sector representatives include Scottish Women’s Aid, the Encompass Network and the Violence Against Women Partnership Network.

The Scottish Government has also published a national tender for new research to ensure the model takes account of those with experience of prostitution and to improve access to support services.

And plans are in place for further research to look at international examples which have successfully challenged men’s demand for prostitution.

Minister for Community Safety Ash Regan said:

“It is fitting that the first meeting of this group is held during the annual UN 16 Days of Activism against gender-based violence and I am very grateful to everyone taking part in this important piece of work.

“Men’s violence against women takes many forms and the definition within Equally Safe, which the Scottish Government works to, includes prostitution.

“The work which this group will feed into represents an important commitment within our Programme for Government to effectively tackle and challenge men’s demand for prostitution.

“Keeping women safe must be our overarching goal whilst challenging men’s demand for the purchase of sex. I believe a model can be designed to effectively deliver on both.

“My vision is of a Scotland where all women and girls are treated with respect, not one where we turn a blind eye to abuse, violence and trafficking.”


The short life working group will have a role in supporting the design of the fundamental principles which will guide the development of the model.  These principles will be in line with Scottish Government aspirations to embed equality and human rights in Scotland and support our efforts to tackle men’s violence against women. The group will discuss a number of key themes including challenging demand and deterrence, service support and national and local approaches. 

The group will aim to have draft principles agreed by early 2022 and once developed the Scottish Government will further consult on them.

The group's membership is COSLA, NHS Lothian, Public Health Scotland, UK Feminista, Scottish Women’s Aid, the Encompass Network, Violence Against Women Partnership Network, The Improvement Service, TARA and Alan Caton former Detective Superintendent of Suffolk Constabulary. Police Scotland and the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal will join the group in an advisory capacity.

Recognising the range of interests and experience, the group’s work will also be informed by a reference group, with membership across government, the wider public sector and third sector. The reference group will be kept updated on progress, along with opportunities to input into its work.

The Scottish Government issued a national tender for lived experience public engagement activities focusing on the lived experience and insights of adults engaged in prostitution and their interaction with support services in order to develop an in-depth understanding of service provision across Scotland.


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