During the passage of the Human Trafficking and Exploitation (Scotland) Act 2015, the Cabinet Secretary gave a commitment to the Justice Committee and to Parliament that the Scottish Government would commission research to investigate the reliability of the evidence available on the criminalisation of the purchase of sexual services, and how it applies to Scotland. This report considers the reliability of the available evidence on the impact of the criminalisation of the purchase of sex locating current debates within an overview of recent legislation and policy in Scotland. The report constitutes a rapid evidence assessment of available evidence on the impact of the criminalisation of the purchase of sex and examines existing international evidence which draws predominantly on countries where legislation criminalising the purchase of sex exists (for example, Sweden (1999), Norway (2009), Iceland (2009), Canada (2014) and Northern Ireland (2015))  . This review sets out evidence published in English and has drawn on a range of sources which are variable in approach and size. The Annex sets out the key empirically-based studies referred to in the evidence assessment. Additional material is referenced in the bibliography. A summary of the current policy and legislative context in Scotland is included  and discussion of the background to the introduction of legislation on the criminalisation of the purchase of sex internationally.
Note on use of language
This review adopts a working definition which is focused on the sale and purchase of sex rather than sex-related activities (such as lap-dancing, pornography etc.). Terminology in this area is contested, however the Scottish Government has used the term 'prostitution' in other contexts and this review, following the Scottish Government, will refer to 'individuals involved in prostitution  '. While other terms were considered, including 'women/men who sell sex' we have retained the terminology which has been used by the Scottish Government in other contexts but acknowledge the contested nature of words; it is not possible to find a 'neutral' language in this context (for example see St Denny, 2014). When reporting studies which have adopted the terminology of 'sex work' this is used where appropriate.
Email: Justice Analytical Services