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New kerb crawling laws take effect

  • Published: Thursday, 1 April 2010

People looking for paid-for sex on the street can now be arrested on their first offence, as new laws take effect. As of 1 April 2010, police no longer need show that kerb crawlers are persistent to arrest them.

Other measures to curb prostitution and human trafficking introduced as part of the Crime and Policing Act 2009 include the following.

Anyone who pays for sexual services with a prostitute who is exploited by force, deception or threats, risks a fine of up to £1,000 and a criminal record. It is not a valid excuse to say 'I did not know'. This is known as a 'strict liability' offence.

Courts have new powers to close down premises associated with prostitution and pornography.

A new penalty has been brought in for the offence of loitering or soliciting for the purposes of prostitution. The penalty can be used by courts instead of a fine. It includes a requirement for offenders to attend meetings designed to help them to leave prostitution.

The term 'common prostitute' has been dropped from the law, as it was considered outdated and offensive. The new definition makes it an offence for a person to loiter or solicit persistently.

The new laws aim to:

  • reduce the demand for prostitution
  • support people to leave street prostitution
  • enable police to disrupt criminal activity linked with sexual exploitation – especially involving children

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