Kerb Crawling

– in the Scottish Parliament at on 5 September 2019.

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Photo of Ruth Maguire Ruth Maguire Scottish National Party

3. To ask the Scottish Government how many arrests were made for offences relating to kerb crawling between 2016 and 2019. (S5O-03491)

Photo of Ash Denham Ash Denham Scottish National Party

Kerb crawling, as it is commonly known, is an offence that is prosecuted under section 1 of the Prostitution (Public Places) (Scotland) Act 2007. That act created two offences: one is soliciting and the other is loitering in a public place

“for the purpose of obtaining the services of a person engaged in prostitution”.

The Scottish Government does not hold data on relevant arrests made by Police Scotland. In 2016-17 and 2017-18, the police recorded 80 offences of soliciting the services of a person engaged in prostitution, but that number might include offences other than kerb crawling.

Photo of Ruth Maguire Ruth Maguire Scottish National Party

I appreciate the minister’s answer. Does she agree that prostitution is a form of men’s violence against women, that it is both a cause and a consequence of women’s inequality and that it makes the world less safe for women and girls? If she does so agree, when will the Scottish Government follow the lead of countries whose action in legislating has reduced violence against women, and also reduced trafficking, by seriously tackling men’s demands to purchase sexual access to the bodies of women and girls?

Photo of Ash Denham Ash Denham Scottish National Party

I recognise Ruth Maguire’s longstanding interest in the issue. The Scottish Government’s equally safe strategy for preventing and eradicating violence against women and girls adopts the position that prostitution is a form of gendered violence. In looking at how we should address prostitution in Scotland, it is important that we learn from different approaches that have been adopted internationally and what their impacts have been.

Last month, I visited Sweden to learn more about its approach to criminalising the purchase but not the sale of sex. I met representatives of the Swedish Government, police, prosecutors and support services. The information that was gathered from that visit will help to develop our approach to prostitution.

I am pleased that—as published in the programme for government this week—the Scottish Government will bring forward a consultation to gather views on Scotland’s approach to tackling prostitution. Views will also be sought on reducing the harms that are associated with prostitution and supporting women to exit.