Prostitution Law Reform

– in the Scottish Parliament at on 18 January 2024.

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Photo of Annabelle Ewing Annabelle Ewing Scottish National Party

I ask members of the public who are still leaving the gallery to please do so quickly and quietly. Thank you for your co-operation.

Our next item of business is a members’ business debate on motion S6M-11509, in the name of Ruth Maguire, on “International Insights” by A Model for Scotland. The debate will be concluded without any question being put.

Motion debated,

That the Parliament welcomes the publication of the report, International Insights, by A Model For Scotland, which is a campaign group for progressive prostitution law reform; considers that the report highlights important findings related to what Scotland can learn from international efforts to combat commercial sexual exploitation; further considers that, whilst the Scottish Government recognises prostitution as a form of violence against women, and has committed to develop a model for Scotland to challenge men’s demand for prostitution, it is currently legal in Scotland to perpetrate and profit from prostitution, and that victims receive sanctions rather than support, including in the Cunninghame South constituency; believes that Scotland’s approach to tackling sex trafficking and sexual exploitation can build on the experiences and learning of other countries, and notes the view that Scotland must join the growing number of countries taking action to combat commercial sexual exploitation by ensuring that the new model for Scotland criminalises paying for sex, decriminalises and provides support to women involved in the sex trade and holds pimping websites accountable.

Photo of Ruth Maguire Ruth Maguire Scottish National Party

If we are t o truly realise our shared ambition of eradicating male violence against women and girls, Scotland needs to have a progressive legal model to tackle prostitution—a model that shifts the burden of criminality off victims of sexual exploitation and on to the people who perpetrate and profit from such abuse.

To prevent sexual exploitation and deliver justice to victims, the Scottish Government must decriminalise victims of sexual exploitation by repealing section 46 of the Civic Government (Scotland) Act 1982; wipe previous convictions; outlaw online pimping; criminalise paying for sex; and provide comprehensive, resourced support and exiting services for victims of sexual exploitation.

In order to do that effectively, it will be important to learn from international examples. I thank members from across the chamber for signing my motion and helping me to secure the debate. I am particularly grateful to the members who will participate in the debate, including the Minister for Victims and Community Safety, who I know to be fully and passionately committed to women’s equality and ensuring that Scotland is safer for all.

I echo the thoughts of Diane Martin CBE, the chair of A Model for Scotland, who said that she hopes that the organisation’s “International Insights” report

“gives confidence to Scottish law makers that the international evidence base is there, and the time for change in Scotland is now.”

A Model for Scotland is an alliance of survivors, organisations and front-line services that is calling for the progressive model that I outlined. I should declare an interest as a member of the steering group of that organisation.

The prostitution trade is transnational, and different countries face common challenges in tackling commercial sexual exploitation. A Model for Scotland’s “International Insights” report provides helpful international evidence and offers key learning from Sweden, Ireland, France, Iceland and the United States.

In 1999, Sweden became the first country to combat demand for prostitution by criminalising paying for sex while decriminalising victims of sexual exploitation. Evidence shows that the proportion of men paying for sex has dropped, that public attitudes have changed and that the law acts as a deterrent to sex trafficking.

Key learning from Sweden includes how essential it is that training be provided for law enforcement agencies to ensure effective enforcement, and that the development of a nationwide network of support and exiting services is crucial.

In 2017, Ireland criminalised paying for sex and decriminalised selling sex. Early observations reveal a shift in the burden of criminality from the victims to the exploiters. Women involved in prostitution report feeling more able to disclose violence against them to the police, and there is a high level of public understanding that prostitution is a form of sexual exploitation.

In Ireland, partnership working was crucial to the adoption and implementation of the relevant laws, and the provision of support and exiting services for victims has been a vital component of the law reform process.

In 2016, France decriminalised soliciting for prostitution, criminalised paying for sex and established comprehensive support provisions for victims of sexual exploitation. The same legislation established a national policy on prevention, education and training to prevent sexual exploitation. The law resulted in an immediate change in law enforcement activity, with a shift from a focus on penalising victims of sexual exploitation to holding sex buyers to account. Exiting prostitution programmes have proved successful, and there is a high level of public support for France’s new abolitionist laws to combat prostitution. In France, strong political leadership was pivotal to securing legal reform.

Iceland criminalised paying for sex in 2009; selling sex had been decriminalised in 2007. In response to that legislation, the focus of policing shifted towards targeting and holding accountable those who create demand for prostitution. There is strong support among the general public for Iceland’s prostitution laws. A key learning point from Iceland was that the prostitution trade should be tackled as part of broader efforts to combat commercial sexual exploitation in its entirety.

In 2017, the United States made it a criminal offence for pimping websites that advertise individuals for prostitution to operate. That new legislation established criminal and civil liability for websites that promote and facilitate prostitution, and it led to a significant shrinkage of the sexual exploitation marketplace. Within 48 hours of the law being passed, major websites stopped hosting prostitution adverts. A year after the legislation was passed, the sexual exploitation advertising market remained significantly disrupted, with a reduction in demand and the failure of any pimping websites to recapture the market dominance of the biggest pimping websites that had previously operated. The key learning from the US is that actions against such websites are crucial in reducing demand and deterring sex trafficking.

I know how proud my Government is of taking a human rights-based approach to policy making and legislation, and I welcome the fact that a Scottish human rights bill is coming soon. Scotland has multiple international obligations to discourage demand for sexual exploitation, including under the Palermo protocol, the United Nations Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women and the Council of Europe Convention on Action Against Trafficking in Human Beings.

When I spoke about France, I talked about the political leadership that was required to make the changes. I will give the last words to France’s former minister for women’s rights, Najat Vallaud-Belkacem, who said:

“It is not only a question of fighting against violence, the specific oppression represented by prostitution, but it’s also about teaching the principle that a woman’s body is not for sale, that it is not an object, that a woman is not a commodity.”

Photo of Ivan McKee Ivan McKee Scottish National Party

It is a pleasure to speak in this debate, and I thank Ruth Maguire for bringing it to the chamber, although the last time I spoke in a members’ business debate on this subject was in December 2017, and I am not sure how much progress has been made in the intervening six years.

During her summing-up speech, the minister might want to address the question of whether it is still the Government’s position that prostitution is a form of violence against women and, if so, set out what plans the Government has to do something about it.

The motion addresses a report that makes international comparisons and looks at the importance of learning from the experiences of other countries about what works and what best practice looks like. I will draw on some examples of that work.

In Ireland, it was noted that, when previous convictions for prostitution were expunged and paying for sex was criminalised, it was more likely that women would then report any violence that had been committed against them.

In France, measures were put in place to provide support, including financial and accommodation support, for women who were exiting prostitution, and 90 per cent of women who exited prostitution found stable jobs at the end of that programme.

Sweden stressed the importance of training law enforcement officers in order to ensure the effective roll-out and implementation of legislation, as well as the importance of tackling trafficking alongside prostitution. One person said that doing those things together made Sweden a very unattractive location for traffickers, as their market dried up.

It is also hugely important to identify and recognise the importance of culture change and of shifting the boundaries of what is recognised as being acceptable behaviour within society, rather than normalising exploitative behaviour. Once again, there are examples from Sweden. In 1996, before the implementation of the legislation, 33 per cent of the population were in favour of criminalising payment for sex; by 2015, that figure had risen to 72 per cent, and only 0.8 per cent of men reported paying for sex in the previous 12 months, which was the lowest figure in all of Europe. After the implementation of legal reforms in Iceland, it was noted that those had created a space in which people saw prostitution as something that threatened the dignity and health of the seller.

The report is also clear that strong political leadership is an absolute prerequisite to addressing the challenge and that the role of Government is to end violence against women, not to mitigate or legitimise it.

Finally, I want to reflect on the points that I made in December 2017 that were addressed to those who seek in some way to justify paying for sex or are opposed to its criminalisation. I find it very peculiar and illuminating that they take the word of supply-side pimps, industry bodies and powerful economic lobbies in this sector when they would never take the word of the equivalent people in any other sector. They are right to call out, as we all do, exploitative sexual behaviour in the workplace or anywhere else that relies on significant imbalances of power, but they do not recognise the significant imbalance of economic power that is core to paying for sex. They would find abhorrent and would oppose, for example, men asking for sex as part of a rental contract, yet when the mechanism of exchange is not rent but cash, they find that acceptable. Those points deserve to be made again.

I thank Ruth Maguire again for bringing this debate to the chamber, and I thank those who worked on the report for the very helpful guidelines that it promotes for taking this work forward in Scotland.

Photo of Tess White Tess White Conservative

I, too, thank Ruth Maguire for securing the time for this debate on such an important issue. Her work and Rhoda Grant’s work on the topic long pre-date my time in the Scottish Parliament.

I understand that how Scotland addresses prostitution and protects vulnerable women has been discussed and debated in this chamber many times but, as Ivan McKee pointed out, there has, sadly, still been no real resolution. The Scottish Government’s 2021 programme for government committed

“to develop a model for Scotland which effectively tackles and challenges men’s demand for prostitution.”

Work is on-going, but the commercial sexual exploitation of women continues every day, often with harrowing consequences.

There are questions over the policy approach to a model for Scotland. Do we tackle prostitution in law or through other mechanisms? How do we change behaviour and reduce demand? How do we mitigate the unintended consequences of criminalising the purchase of sex? There are ideological questions, too. If two consenting adults agree to the purchasing of sex, should that be acceptable in the eyes of the law? Can there ever be an equal distribution of power in a situation where sex with women is a commodity bought by men?

Ruth Maguire’s motion focuses on international insights and learning, but I note that the Netherlands is not mentioned. Some time ago, I lived and worked in the Netherlands, where prostitution is legal as long as it involves sex between consenting adults. The Netherlands has a liberal approach in which prostitution is normalised, and I have reflected on that for many years. Since I was elected, however, I have opened conversations with sexual violence support services and advocacy groups such as Beira’s Place and the Women’s Support Project, and they have had a massive impact on me.

Prostitution is not about pleasure or gratification; it is about exploitation and violence. I am still developing my position on how we address such a complex issue, but the immovable starting point for me is how we best protect vulnerable women from coercion, violence and abuse. In the Netherlands, the fact that prostitution is legal does not make it safe. Forced prostitution, underage prostitution and unsafe working conditions still happen, but underreporting to police about what happens in the room is common practice because of prejudice. I note with interest that the Dutch Government has been working to improve the social and legal position of sex workers.

Diane Martin CBE, chair of A Model for Scotland, has urged the Scottish Government to be courageous as it tackles the sex trade. I pay tribute to her courage and her work, and I hope that MSPs will answer her call to action as we look at how to protect women from sexual violence.

Photo of Rhoda Grant Rhoda Grant Labour

I, too, thank Ruth Maguire for bringing forward the debate, and I pay tribute to the work of Diane Martin.

I, too, am a proud member of the steering group for the campaign, which has produced a number of reports, of which “International Insights” is the latest. That report highlights what Scotland can learn from other countries to combat commercial sexual exploitation. Commercial sexual exploitation is international, so it is important that we work together. We can learn from other countries.

Back in 1999, Sweden became the first country to combat commercial sexual exploitation by criminalising paying for sex. In 1996, 12.7 per cent of men in Sweden paid for sex. In 2008, the figure was 7.6 per cent. That is almost a halving of the number, just because of that change in the law.

Ruth Maguire talked about other countries. Among our nearest neighbours, France shifted the burden of criminality in 2016 and Ireland did the same the following year. In 2017, the USA tackled pimping websites and there was a huge decrease in the number of people who used those websites, and in demand. That was highlighted by A Model for Scotland’s report on online pimping, which is well worth a read for those who are interested in that area.

It is essential that we deal with demand, because trafficking for sexual exploitation is the most profitable form of modern slavery in the world and is fuelled by demand. It is a global industry of more than $100 billion per year. In countries that take the more liberal approach of normalising prostitution, there are higher levels of trafficking. In those that take the opposite approach, human trafficking has decreased as a consequence.

We can learn four important lessons from the countries that have tackled the issue. It is crucial to support those who exit prostitution. In France, 600 women have benefited from the exiting programme that was set up in conjunction with the laws that were made in 2016. Support from that programme includes financial support, accommodation support, support for the damages that are caused by prostitution and help for people to get their lives back on an even keel.

We have also learned that training for law enforcement, including the police, is essential. In Sweden, that was perhaps not done as well as it could have been, given that it was the first country to promote such a law. It has since learned from that and put in place training. It is essential that law enforcement agencies know how to tackle the issue and how to prosecute.

We also have to make sure that online pimping websites are tackled, because that really reduces demand, given that those who use such websites can hide behind their computer.

We also need strong political leadership to do those things, because, in every other country that has tackled the issue, politicians have faced strong opposition to change. There are societal pressures, in that some people believe that a woman’s place in society is lower than a man’s. However, it is also the case that the industry is huge—people make a lot of money from the exploitation of others.

Ruth Maguire pointed out our international obligations to tackle violence against women, trafficking and exploitation, and it is important that we take that lead. The Scottish Government must bring forward a framework to challenge men’s demand for prostitution. That framework needs to set out legislation to address demand and to put in place assistance for those who are exploited. Most of all, it needs to stop Scotland’s provision of a favourable environment for exploitation.

Photo of Ash Denham Ash Denham Scottish National Party

I commend Ruth Maguire for bringing this important debate to the chamber. I agree entirely and whole-heartedly with the contents of her speech. I also commend A Model for Scotland for the work that it has done on this important topic in the past wee while. I read its report with interest a month or so ago. I thought that it was very good and that it helpfully set out information on the international context. I also commend the Parliament’s cross-party group on commercial sexual exploitation for all its work on the topic.

A Model for Scotland’s report is about international insights. The international context is important and instructive for a country that is considering changing the law on the issue. The aim of the United Nations Palermo protocol is

“to prevent, suppress and punish trafficking in persons, especially women and children”.

It says that

“States ... shall adopt or strengthen legislative or other measures ... to discourage ... demand”.

Article 6 of CEDAW says that states shall take all ... measures, including legislation, to suppress ... exploitation of prostitution”.

Again, one aim of the Council of Europe Convention on Action against Trafficking in Human Beings is “to discourage the demand”. Reducing demand is therefore the key part of that approach. Prostitution and trafficking are linked. Prostitution creates a market that traffickers then strive to fill. Reducing demand by creating a legal framework that diminishes it as much as possible is therefore imperative.

Sweden showed us the way on that. It was the first country to criminalise the purchase of sex with a view to achieving such suppression of demand. In the 20 or so years since then, other countries have followed suit—I think that it is up to around eight now. That gives us more data to examine and more experience to watch so that we can see how a country such as Scotland might be able to follow it.

The report mentions Sweden, which I visited when I was looking into the issue a few years ago. I remember prosecutors there explaining to me that, although they were very proud of their law—and rightly so—on reflection, they felt that there was no way to escalate penalties. Someone who had been caught a number of times would get the same fine each time. The report says that Sweden has now updated its minimum penalty, which I note with interest is now imprisonment.

The Scottish Government has a position on the issue. Its “Equally Safe” strategy notes that prostitution is violence against women, which is the position that many of us in the chamber would take. The problem with that is that “Equally Safe” has represented the Scottish Government’s position for more than 10 years but, unfortunately, the law has not been updated to reflect that.

I take some personal responsibility for that—as many members will know, for a number of years, I was the minister in charge of that area. It was a personal disappointment for me that I left office not having been able to change the law while I was a minister in Government. Unfortunately, I learned that the political will of just one person in a large Government is not enough, and it was not enough in that case. Ten years is too long, though, and it is not good enough that the issue has not been given higher priority.

I recognise that the Scottish Government has instead been focusing on other issues, some of which I consider to be detrimental to women, such as the discredited Gender Recognition Reform (Scotland) Bill. Seemingly, the Government has learned nothing from that process over the past year, and it is now considering introducing a bill to end conversion therapy. Even the proposed bill on misogyny that the Government is considering should be introduced only after legislation is undertaken to update the position on prostitution law, because prostitution is misogyny in action.

Members might not be aware that I plan to introduce a member’s bill on the topic this year. I am finalising my consultation, which I hope will be out in the next few weeks. I would be happy to discuss that with any member, and I hope to receive cross-party support for my bill.

Photo of Michelle Thomson Michelle Thomson Scottish National Party

I thank my friend and colleague Ruth Maguire for bringing the debate to the chamber.

“As long as women are seen as a legal commodity to be bought by men, there will be no significant shift in men’s violence against women. The ability fundamentally fosters a sense of male entitlement and ownership that permeates every aspect of our society.”

In addition,

“The United Nations Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women is unequivocal. States must address trafficking and prostitution if they are to eliminate discrimination ... against women.”—[Official Report, 29 November 2023; c 53, 52.]

That must be the starting point of our discussion. The words that I have stated are simply a quote from a speech that I made previously in this Parliament.

As we know, the Scottish Parliament opened in 1999. If we look at the record of the Parliament’s first session, we see that the issues of prostitution and the need for legal reforms to protect women and girls and to prevent child prostitution were raised in debates, in committees and in ministerial questioning. It was an area that was pursued with vigour by a number of members from different parties and, not least, the redoubtable Margo MacDonald. Discussions have continued through multiple parliamentary sessions since.

We have heard from Ruth Maguire about those countries that have managed to make a shift to combat demand for prostitution by criminalising paying for sex while decriminalising the victims of sexual exploitation. That means that there is a data bank that we can interrogate, be it data on public attitudes, deterrence or the all-important trafficking, which Rhoda Grant mentioned. However, here we are, 25 years after Sweden acted and 25 years after the re-establishment of the Scottish Parliament, and we are still debating rather than having acted.

I, too, note the excellent report by A Model for Scotland, which recognises that

“the Scottish Government has pledged to adopt a model for Scotland to challenge men’s demand for prostitution and support women to exit sexual exploitation. It has also developed policy principles to underpin Scotland’s framework on prostitution.”

However, I must be frank. Pledges and principles are not enough. We should have acted years before now. Warm words and principles without action quite quickly become virtue signalling.

Violence against women and girls continues. Just recently, data pertaining to 2022-23 was released by the Scottish Government, from which I will give five key points. Nearly 15,000 sexual crimes were recorded by Police Scotland, and at least 37 per cent of those relate to a victim under the age of 18. Nearly 4,000 sexual crimes were cybercrimes, which is a trebling of the figure of around 1,000 that were reported in 2013-14. More than one in six women in Scotland have experienced online violence, and nearly 2,000 online child sex abuse crimes were recorded.

The most recent data from the Scottish crime and justice survey of 2019-20 showed that only 22 per cent of victims and survivors of rape reported it to the police. One in 10 people in Scotland still thinks that women often lie about being raped, and nearly one in three continues to believe that rape results from men being unable to control their need for sex. There is clearly no room for complacency.

I, too, express the view that the Government is currently consulting on niche issues that seem to be given higher priority than the protection of women and girls. Ideologies that are antithetical to the interests of women are given priority.

What I seek from the minister is a clear timeline for taking legislative action. I appreciate the complexity—I think that we all do—but it is being done elsewhere, so why not in Scotland? As Diane Martin, the chair of A Model for Scotland—who has already been mentioned—so eloquently put it in the report’s forward,

“The role of government must be to end male violence against women—not to mitigate or legitimise it.”

Let us make that our north star.

Photo of Siobhian Brown Siobhian Brown Scottish National Party

I thank Ruth Maguire for lodging the motion and bringing the debate to the chamber. I know that she is passionate about ensuring that progress is made in challenging men’s demand for prostitution, as are Rhoda Grant and Ash Regan. I thank them for all the work that they have done in this area, and I thank members for all the contributions in the debate. I was pleased to see that Ruth’s motion on this very important issue had cross-party support.

The debate is very timely, following the recent 16 days of action on violence against women and girls, when the Parliament again came together to send the strong message that violence against women is totally unacceptable. I am sure that we all agree that there is no place for sexual exploitation in Scotland.

I thank the A Model for Scotland alliance for its work in raising awareness of commercial sexual exploitation. Our engagement with members of the alliance is helping to shape the Scottish Government’s framework to challenge men’s demand for prostitution, and its recently published report, “International Insights: How Scotland can learn from international efforts to combat commercial sexual exploitation”, will help to inform the development of our approach.

I am sure that many members will have seen the Women’s Support Project exhibition that was held in the Scottish Parliament in November, which detailed the project’s work over the past 40 years in tackling commercial sexual exploitation. The exhibition highlighted the energy and commitment from stakeholders across Scotland in tackling such exploitation, and the progress that has been made as a result. I am very grateful for the project’s on-going work.

I note Tess White’s contribution and her insight into the model in the Netherlands. I would like to think that if we fast-forward 40 years from now into Scotland’s future, we will—I hope—be living in a Scotland that has overcome the normalisation of behaviours associated with men purchasing sex. It is not acceptable, and challenging those attitudes is key to challenging demand.

Our equally safe strategy recognises commercial sexual exploitation as violence against women and makes clear our collective responsibility to tackle the attitudes that perpetuate it in all its forms. Our efforts to challenge demand are clearly linked to wider aspects of policy. That includes contributing to our efforts to tackle misogyny and the on-going scourge of inequality and poverty, which we know can drive people into exploitation.

In order to truly tackle demand, therefore, we need an approach that considers the full range of social and economic factors that underlie it. Our framework to challenge men’s demand for prostitution and improve support for those with experience of it, which will be published early this year, will bring wider efforts together. It will take an intersectional approach that sets out, for the first time, Scotland’s strategic approach to tackling prostitution. Like the Nordic model, our framework will look at enabling women to exit from prostitution safely and sustainably. It will raise public awareness, including among those who deliver public services. It will also clearly recognise women with experience of selling and exchanging sex as victims of exploitation. I am clear that the framework’s approach will provide the basis for any future consideration of legislation.

As members may be aware, in order to inform the development of our framework, we published “Challenging Demand for Prostitution: An International Evidence Review” on international challenge-demand approaches back in 2022. Both that report and the “International Insights” report from the A Model for Scotland alliance highlight that, in addition to the criminal law, other important components are needed within the challenge demand approach.

We need to continue to learn lessons from those countries that have progressed legislation as a matter of principle, and to understand why that has been so, and why so many today advocate for that. However, I am conscious that such approaches have not always been delivered with the necessary supporting structure, which our framework aims to deliver for those who are looking to move away from prostitution and to effect the societal change that we all know is required.

It is also important to recognise the need to work with international partners to truly address sexual exploitation rather than simply exporting it elsewhere. Our approach recognises that exploitation has no respect for borders. In that regard, Police Scotland continues to work with partners nationally and internationally to bring offenders to justice.

Just yesterday, I met the UK’s new Independent Anti-Slavery Commissioner to discuss trafficking and exploitation strategy. She was very interested in the work that Scotland is currently doing with regard to commercial sexual exploitation. That is key to ensuring that our approach to tackling demand is sustainable and that we have a joined-up and preventative approach.

The importance of a co-ordinated national approach was illustrated well at the commercial sexual exploitation-focused event in Ayrshire at which Ruth Maguire and I spoke during the 16 days of action on violence against women and girls. The event brought together a wide range of practitioners from, for example, housing, health and education, and the power of working collaboratively was evident.

Collaborative working across policy and services was key to the development of the framework’s policy principles, which were published back in 2022. That is a fundamental aspect of the framework, which enables us to build on existing good practice and harness it to deliver a more consistent approach across Scotland.

One of the participants in the “Lived Experience Engagement” research that informed the framework said:

“there’s lots of girls who do this who don’t want to or have nothing else to turn to. They need to know what is out there to help them and who they can talk to.”

Our framework looks to address that, by making support easier to access, through strengthened links between mainstream and specialist services, so that women, at any stage of their journey, can access the support that they need.

At last month’s launch of our trafficking and exploitation strategy refresh, I heard directly from women who had been trafficked for the purpose of commercial sexual exploitation, and meeting them and listening to their stories was incredibly moving. I am grateful for their brave and inspirational contributions, because it is important that we listen and learn.

The importance of trauma-informed justice was one of the issues that was raised. That aligns with the framework’s approach, which acknowledges that people with experience of commercial sexual exploitation are victims of exploitation. Therefore, we will continue to work with Police Scotland and wider justice partners as we look to finalise, publish and implement the framework.

We are also aligning progress with our wider work on delivering trauma-informed justice. That includes ensuring that we build on the conclusions from the report that was published last year on the case for gendered intersectional approaches to justice. That report recognised that supporting women in ways that meet their individual needs could have a powerful impact on their perception of justice, leading to greater trust in the system. To that end, and in parallel with the launch of the equally safe refresh, equally safe in practice training modules are now available to civil servants across the Scottish Government as part of their training offer and development.

It is important that our framework takes an adaptive approach that is cognisant of emerging risks related to commercial sexual exploitation. That includes online behaviours and considering our next generation by ensuring that young people understand the complexities of CSE and how to stay safe online.

We must also remain vigilant within our responses to crises—for example, our collective responses to the cost of living crisis and the on-going conflict in Ukraine.

Recognising the need for an adaptive approach and the need to bring together our approaches to tackle commercial sexual exploitation more holistically, we will establish a new multi-agency group on commercial sexual exploitation, which will support the framework’s implementation.

As I have outlined today, there is clearly positive progress across Scotland in our collective efforts to tackle CSE, but we can and should do more, and our framework will pave the way for that. I look forward to updating the chamber following the framework’s publication.

13:27 Meeting suspended.

14:30 On resuming—