Being Outside: CONSTRUCTING A RESPONSE TO STREET PROSTITUTION
In 2003, the Minister for Justice constituted the Expert Group with the aim of considering the legal, policing, health and social justice issues surrounding prostitution in Scotland. The Group took an overview of prostitution and decided that its initial priority should be street based prostitution involving women. Therefore, the first part of the Group's work has focused on this. Subsequent stages will examine other important issues including indoor prostitution, trafficking and male prostitution, each of which requires its own focused attention.
The review has taken place against a background of a number of developments at local and national level. Political and social considerations have led to a growing interest in the concept of Tolerance Zones and in legislation to tackle kerb crawling. In addition we have seen the introduction and use of Anti-Social Behaviour Orders in response to perceived adverse effects of street prostitution. Internationally, there have been diverse initiatives tackling street prostitution from radically different policy directions.
The issues associated with street prostitution are emotive and challenging, and appear to be increasing in complexity. There is no simple solution. In analysing the practice of street prostitution, the Group has taken into account the consequences for both the individuals involved and the communities affected, and sought to provide pragmatic, workable proposals which could operate within a Scottish framework. For example, one of the Group's main conclusions has been that the concept of Tolerance Zones should be viewed not in isolation, but in a broader context of strategies aimed at making the problem more manageable.
The fundamental principles underpinning the work of the Group were to provide greater protection and support for women involved in street prostitution - many of whom have experienced poverty, high levels of physical and sexual abuse, and the additional problem of drug addiction - against the need to offer adequate protection to those communities which suffer from the serious and detrimental consequences of street prostitution.
I am personally indebted to members of the Group for giving so freely of their time, valuable expertise and support in developing constructive proposals to address this difficult issue.
Sandra R Hood OBE