Wednesday 4 February 2004

 
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Local Government and Transport Committee

Evidence Received for
Prostitution Tolerance Zones (Scotland) Bill Stage 1

City of Edinburgh Council

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1 Purpose of report

1.1 To report on measures which have been taken by and/or are available to the City of Edinburgh Council and its partners to address the problems associated with prostitution in the Leith area of Edinburgh.

2 Summary

2.1 This report responds to a motion approved by the City of Edinburgh Council in April 2003 following expressions of concern about the impact of street prostitution on communities in Leith. The report has been compiled by Officers of the Council, working in partnership with colleagues from Lothian NHS Board, Lothian and Borders Police and the voluntary sector. Its content is based on the views of various stakeholders derived from a process of consultation.

2.2 This report examines the characteristics and impact of female street prostitution in Leith. It describes Edinburgh's approach to tackling this issue over the last twenty five years and highlights the key problems which have emerged since the cessation of the "Tolerance Zone" in Leith. The report outlines a variety of possible measures for the Council to consider implementing in the short term, which are within its legal powers and duties. The proposed measures seek to improve the situation for residents in Leith and enhance access to drug treatment and rehabilitation services for the prostitutes The potential financial implications are also highlighted.

3 Background

3.1 At its meeting on 10 April 2003, The City of Edinburgh Council approved a motion by Councillor Attridge expressing concern regarding the current circumstances relating to prostitution in Leith. It was noted that since the demise of the "Tolerance Zone", prostitution was evident in residential areas of Leith and that the quality of life for residents appeared to be affected.

Council agreed:

"to instruct the Chief Executive, in consultation with the Police and other relevant agencies, to report back within three months on measures which are available to address the problems affecting the local community".

3.2 In view of the complexity and sensitivity surrounding issues relating to prostitution and in order to allow Council Officers to explore fully all the relevant aspects through appropriate consultation with key partners, communities of interest and other interested parties, it has been necessary to extend the timescale for submission of this report beyond the original limit.

3.3 The task of examining the key issues and appraising the options available to the Council has been undertaken by an Officer Working Group convened by the Director of Social Work. Its membership comprised Chief and Senior Officers of the Council's Departments of Social Work, Housing and Environmental and Consumer Services, Lothian and Borders Police and Lothian NHS Board.

3.4 Relevant to the matter under consideration Council should note that on 27 June 2002, it approved a report (Report No.CEC/59/02-03/SW) by the Director of Social Work for submission to the Member's Office and to COSLA presenting a response by the Council to a consultation paper on the proposal for a Bill (Prostitution Tolerance Zones (Scotland) Bill) that would enable local authorities to designate areas within their boundaries inside which it would be legal to solicit. The Member's Bill, in the name of Margo MacDonald, was supported by MSP's from all political parties in the Scottish Parliament at that time, but was subsequently voted out _refer to paragraph 7.4_.

Method

3.5 The Working Group adopted the following method to undertake its task:

i) Requested from Lothian and Borders Police advice on the sex industry/prostitution `scene' in Edinburgh, with specific reference to law enforcement and `crime management' issues in relation to street prostitution in Leith.

ii) Invited discussion with, and oral evidence from communities of interest and interested parties, namely Leith Links Residents Association; Leith Links Community Council, elected members, Scot-PEP and the local business sector, on the issues arising from prostitution in Leith and possible solutions.

iii) Examined the impact of street prostitution in Leith and the response of local agencies, with particular emphasis on issues surrounding the existence of a `Tolerance Zone' in Leith/Edinburgh.

iv) Identified and appraised various options and measures open to the City of Edinburgh Council and its partners to respond to problems associated with prostitution in Leith.

4 Street Prostitution in Leith - nature and extent

4.1 Prostitution is a serious and emotive issue which presents a range of health, social, legal and political challenges. The precise nature of prostitution and the best way to tackle it has long been a source of contention and debate. No government, law enforcement agency or strategy has managed to eradicate prostitution. The various approaches that have been tried internationally have neither eradicated street prostitution nor reduced the demand from buyers of sex. In this context, Edinburgh developed a pragmatic and realistic approach to dealing with this social phenomenon.

4.2 For the purposes of this report Lothian and Borders Police collated information from a range of reliable sources in order to provide an overview of the whole female sex industry scene in the city with specific emphasis on street prostitution in Leith.

4.3 Although there has been some suggestion that young girls under the age of 16 have appeared on the street prostitution scene in Leith, there is no firm evidence of child prostitution in the area. In cases where local services and Scot-PEP have been made aware of young people's appearance on the scene further enquiries are carried out by the Police, Social Work and the Child Protection Coordinator. Scot-PEP has received funding to set up a specific (young people's) project to engage with young people under 21 who emerge on `the local scene' and support them to consider other lifestyle options. This element of Scot-PEP's work has been actively supported by the Council and it is proposed that it should be consolidated with further investment by the Council in the current year.

4.4 It is widely acknowledged that street prostitution has been historically associated with the Leith area of the City becoming concentrated there over the last 25 years. The activity originally occurred primarily around the dockyard area and surrounding streets. Street prostitution and levels of prostitution are closely linked to drug and alcohol misuse. Scot-PEP the local agency commissioned by Lothian NHS Board to provide health and support services for female prostitutes reports that there are around 100 local women working as street prostitutes in the Leith area. It is estimated that 90% of the women are drug dependent and that 70% of them are injecting drug users. It is acknowledged that a significant proportion of this population have complex needs and are working to support their drug dependence, indicating the vicious circle of their lifestyles.

4.5 According to information provided by Scot-PEP which is based on the agency's contact with and surveillance of the sex industry, there has been an overall decrease in the number of women engaging in street prostitution in Leith over the last four years. In 2001 and 2002, the number of (locally resident) street prostitutes remained fairly constant at 100 per year. The statistics available for 2003 are however for part of the year (to end of June); the full year total could be higher than in the previous two years _see Table below_. It appears that few women travel from the West of Scotland to Edinburgh since the termination of `tolerance zone' in December 2001 and it is this fact that explains the overall decrease in the number of women engaging in street prostitution in Leith.

Year

(Jan -Dec)

Number

`EH' Postcodes

West Coast

Postcodes

Other Postcodes

2001 *

2002

2003 _

(to end June)

218

124

101

100 (46%)

100 (81%)

74 (73%)

100 (46%)

12 (9.5%)

8 (8%)

18 (8%)

12 (9.5%)

19 (19%)

* `Toleration Zone' in Coburg Street (Salamander Street) ended in December 2001

_ Part-year figure

4.6 Police intelligence confirms that prostitutes currently travel to Edinburgh from a number of areas in the Scottish central belt, including Glasgow (albeit in greatly reduced numbers), and the north of England/Midlands area.

4.7 The process of compiling this report reinforced the absence of comprehensive and accessible data from a range of sources on the extent or impact of the sex industry in Leith and wider, across the city. The Working Group has agreed to address this issue by encouraging the development of more systematic and coordinated monitoring arrangements for surveillance and needs assessment purposes.

Laws Relating to Prostitution

4.8 Buying and selling sex is not illegal in Scotland. There is no specific legislation in Scotland against kerb-crawling. The current legislative framework to tackle prostitution includes the following:

· Civic Government (Scotland) Act 1982 which identifies soliciting and importuning as a criminal offence under Section 46. It defines Soliciting and Importuning as `prostitutes (whether male or female) who for the purposes of prostitution either loiter in a public place or solicit in a public place, or any other place so as to be seen from a public place or importunes any person in a public place'. This Law is applied by the Procurator Fiscal where there is sufficient evidence and it is in the public's interest to prosecute. Prior to being charged with an offence under Section 46, the individual should have either received two independent cautions recorded on the SCRO computer or hold a previous conviction for such an offence.

· The Criminal Law Consolidation Act 1995, Sections 11 (1) and 11 (4) which deals with persons living on the earnings of prostitutes.

· The Human Rights Act 1998, enforced from October 2000, which includes amongst other things duties under Article 8 to protect residents rights to enjoy their homes and private family lives.

· Crime and Disorder Act 1998 which permits local authorities to seek to apply Anti Social Behaviour Orders (ASBO) when certain conditions are fulfilled - i.e. that a person has pursued a course of conduct which has caused or is likely to cause alarm and distress to another individual and that the Order is necessary to protect the individual from further anti social conduct.

· The Local Government in Scotland Act 2003 extends the powers of local authorities which already exist under the Community Care Act 1990 and the Health and Community Care Act 2002 to promote or improve the well being of its area and residents within that area through the provision of an infra-structure of services designed to protect their health, welfare and safety.

4 Tackling Street Prostitution: Edinburgh's Approach

5.1 Edinburgh's approach to tackling female prostitution has evolved since the mid 1980's. It was originally based on a harm reduction model which was pioneered in 1984 in Lothian by a multi-agency partnership involving the (former) Regional and District Councils, Lothian Health Board, Lothian and Borders Police and the voluntary sector. Its objectives were to minimise the spread and impact of HIV/AIDS and injecting drug use in the city. The harm reduction approach was, and continues to be, based on partnership, pragmatism and flexibility to implement effective responses to the complex issues associated with the problems of drug misuse and prostitution.

Non-Harassment Zone in Edinburgh

5.2 The Non-Harassment Zone, essentially a designated zone of discretionary prosecution by the Police (commonly known as a `Tolerence Zone') operated in the Coburg Street area of Leith from 1985 to 2001. It was an informal, unofficial, pragmatic response to the complex issues associated with street

prostitution in Leith. It evolved in the context of the Lothian harm-reduction policy developed by the partners to tackle problems associated with HIV/AIDS, blood-borne viruses and drug misuse. The non-harassment zone `policy' received the informal cooperation of the Council, the Health Board, the sex industry workers and their representatives.

5.3 A clear prosecution policy for the Coburg Street Zone was publicised and enforced by the Police. Within the defined area of the zone no action would be undertaken against an agreed number (usually 20) of street prostitutes who worked in the area in a manner which did not attract complaints from members of the public or otherwise cause offence. Charges were preferred against those who breached the conditions of this agreement. The conditions set by the Police did not tolerate the presence of pimps, the presence of drugs or other criminal activity within or outwith the Coburg Street Non-Harassment Zone. In an average six-month period, no more than twenty prostitutes were cautioned and three subsequently charged. This was a relatively small number in the context of the overall street prostitution activity in Leith.

5.4 The containment of activity within the zone had important benefits from a public health and public safety perspective. A range of health protection, health promotion, social support and rehabilitation services were able to be delivered to street prostitutes without hindrance, with a steady increase in the uptake of these specifically designed services by the target population. Scot-PEP the main support service provider was based in the zone and maintained contact with a high percentage of the prostitutes operating in the area. The agency was well-placed to maintain an overview of street prostitution in the area, particularly changes in patterns of behaviour of sellers and buyers of sex and promote harm reduction activities.

5.5 The regeneration of Coburg Street and the Leith area generally for high amenity housing, accompanied by demographic changes, resulted in the termination of the non-harassment zone by the Police in August 2001. There were increasing levels of complaints by new residents and property developers. An attempt to move the zone to a section of nearby commercial area in Salamander Street proved unsuccessful due to pressure from local residents and businesses and on 30 November 2001, the new zone ceased to exist . Street prostitutes have, however, continued to loiter and solicit in Salamander Street/Leith Links and the surrounding areas.

5.6 Since the non-harassment zone ended, the street prostitutes have dispersed across (mainly North) Leith and most of them are now working more discreetly or in isolation, many on residential side streets. The dispersal effect created new problems for residents and agencies resulting in:

· Increasing number of complaints to the Police and elected members from residents as a result of threats and abuse from prostitutes and others involved in prostitution.

· Public nuisance and fear of crime particularly on the part of female residents returning home and being approached by males seeking prostitutes; concern about the safety and welfare of residents' children witnessing sex acts in public places.

· Detritus - indiscriminate disposal of injecting equipment and condoms; fouling as a result of private residential areas being used as public toilets by street prostitutes and their clients.

· Perceived negative economic effects on local property prices.

· Increasing difficulties for Scot-PEP to deliver health and support services to street prostitutes, which presents an increased health risk to the prostitutes and their clients.

· A generally volatile and fragmented `scene' with increased levels of violence and the threat of abuse towards street prostitutes from clients.

· The introduction of new criminal elements such as increased `drug pimping'; increased drug use (crack cocaine), drug dealing and levels of crime in the area. Challenges for the Police and other agencies to maintain an overview of the street prostitution scene in Leith and the emerging trends within it.

In summary, much of the advantage gained over the last eighteen years since the establishment of the original non-harassment zone in Coburg Street has been lost.

5.7 As a result of growing frustration at the impact the street-prostitution scene was having on their lives and a perceived lack of response to their complaints by the Police and the Council, the Leith Links Residents Association (LLRA) introduced `residents' patrols' in March 2003 which continue to operate nightly between 20.00 and 01.00 hours. There is increasing animosity and tension between members of the residents patrol, the prostitutes and `pimps' with a growing potential for violence or injury. There have been complaints to the Police about threats from both the residents' patrols and prostitutes.

5.8 The LLRA residents' patrols have resulted in a slight displacement of the street prostitution activity away from their (Leith Links) area, with some street prostitutes having returned to Coburg Street and other residential areas in Leith.

6 Consultation with Interested Parties

6.1 The Working Group actively sought the views of representatives of the community in Leith and other interested parties in the area, specifically the Leith Links Residents' Association (LLRA), Leith Links Community Council (LLCC), elected members, a member of the business community and representatives of agencies providing health promotion services to street prostitutes. A summary of the commonly expressed views and concerns as well as specific issues raised by particular respondents is presented below.

6.2 There was general agreement amongst respondents that the current problems being experienced with street prostitution had been exacerbated by and steadily worsened since the cessation of the non-harassment zone. The dispersal effect was presenting new threats and challenges to the community and services. Respondents were supportive of the re-establishment of a so called `Tolerence Zone' for street prostitution in Edinburgh, but emphasised that such a zone would need to be sited away from residential areas in Leith and its conditions would need to be rigorously enforced by the Police. It was acknowledged however that a `Tolerance Zone' could not be established in the absence of robust legislation by the Scottish Parliament.

6.3 The vulnerability of the female street prostitutes and the importance of sustaining the provision of appropriate health promotion/protection and support services to them was acknowledged. However, the LLRA and the LLCC perceived that there was an imbalance in the response by the statutory authorities between the needs of the community and the needs of the prostitutes.

6.4 The residents' groups, particularly the LLRA, were concerned about the `devastating and disruptive effect' street prostitution was having on their community. Their specific concerns related to: detritus resulting from drug misuse and sex in public places and the associated health risks to children; increased drug dealing/drug misuse with suggestions that the area "has become a magnet for drug dealers"; a general lack of public safety as a result of `local resident women being accosted for sex'; a lack of responsiveness by the Police to their complaints. The LLRA was keen to see the application of Anti Social Behaviour Orders by the Council and the Police to prohibit street prostitutes from working in the area.

6.5 Concerns were also expressed about Edinburgh being seen as a `soft option' by prostitutes and `pimps' and, therefore, attracting prostitutes from other parts of Scotland; the information contained in paragraph 4.5 of this report clearly contradicts this claim. There were calls for the Police to take more proactive and firmer action; however it was acknowledged that the resources available to the Police were probably not sufficient to meet the increasing demands of the residents.

6.6 Some of the respondents expressed concern about the extent to which local Bed and Breakfast Accommodation in the Leith Links area was being used as temporary accommodation for people with drug problems linked to the sex industry, without the provision of adequate support and supervision; they urged the Council to examine further the issues created by this situation. The Working Group has undertaken to explore this issue further.

6.7 Scot-PEP reiterated its concerns about the difficulties it was experiencing in delivering health and support services to street prostitutes as a result of the dispersed prostitution scene in Leith at present. Although it has adapted its mode of operation in order to fulfil the terms of its Service Agreement with Lothian NHS Board, there has been a noticeable reluctance on the part of prostitutes to use the services available. This a matter of concern from a public health perspective. Scot-PEP also expressed concern about the safety of its staff operating at night in Leith in the context of the current tensions between the street prostitutes and residents' patrols; the agency has implemented measures to ensure that its staff are not placed at risk.

6.8 The Working Group acknowledges the concerns and frustrations expressed by the residents emanating from changes which have occurred in the street prostitution scene in Leith since the informal non-harassment zone ended two years ago. At its meeting with the Leith Links Residents Association (LLRA), the Working Group urged (LLRA) representatives to consider suspending their patrols in Leith following expressions of concern for the safety of the residents and prostitutes in the context of reports of growing tensions, so that the Council and its partners could consider implementing a package of measures to mitigate the impact of the problems being experienced by the community and the prostitutes themselves. However, the LLRA felt that a relaxation of action on their part at this point would lead to a greater intensity of the problem.

6.9 The working group acknowledges that women involved in street prostitution are in a vulnerable situation, have multiple needs and that it is important to ensure their well-being and safety.

7 Possible Measures and Appraisal

7.1 There is no single or immediate solution to the problems being experienced by the residents in Leith arising from street prostitution. Indeed any measure which can be taken singly or in combination, within existing legislation would at best contain the nuisances deriving from street prostitution and would not remove these altogether. The Working Group has considered a variety of measures which could be put in place in the short to medium term while a longer term, sustainable solution is identified. A package of interim measures is outlined below for the consideration of the Council. However firstly it is important to address the issue of the re-establishment of a `non-harassment' or `Tolerance Zone' in Leith or Edinburgh as a number of respondents consider this to be a solution to the current problem.

A New Tolerance Zone in Edinburgh?

7.2 Although there has not been an evaluation of the effectiveness of the non-harassment zone which previously existed in Coburg Street, Leith, its benefits for the community, the prostitutes and a range of service providers are clearly recognised. The original zone was sited in an area where street prostitution was already focussed and the policy was developed as an informal arrangement by the Police. It should be emphasised that the Council did not, and could not play a formal role in the establishment, re-siting or monitoring of a `Tolerance Zone' under the Law as it presently stands. The Council Solicitor's advice was sought on the powers available to the Council under the Local Government in Scotland Act 2003. However it would appear that this legislation provides limited scope and would expose the Council to legal challenge if it was applied to the establishment of a `Tolerance Zone' in terms of encouraging the commission of criminal offences.

7.3 Any role which the Council has played thus far in relation to the `operation' or monitoring of the two zones has been essentially reactive and has arisen from its powers and duties for Cleansing, Environmental and Public Health and Social Work/Social Welfare. Without a clear legal framework enabling powers and protection from litigation, the re-establishment of a `Tolerance Zone' with the support of the Council is not a viable option at present.

7.4 A Members Bill promoted by Margo MacDonald MSP entitled the Prostitution Tolerance Zones (Scotland) Bill was intended to give clear power to a local authority to designate part of its area as a "prostitution tolerance zone' and to be pro-active in establishing such an area. However the Bill was voted down in February 2003 by the Scottish Parliament. Ms MacDonald reintroduced the Bill to the Scottish Parliament at the beginning of September 2003, with the Provisions extended to include consultation with local Community Councils as well as other individuals and bodies previously mentioned. Council may wish to observe the progress of the Bill with keen interest. It should be noted however that even if the enabling powers to establish a tolerance zone were available to local authorities, there would be considerable challenges ahead in terms of identifying appropriate and accessible sites to ensure the effectiveness of the zone.

Measures for Consideration by the Council

7.5 The following measures may be considered singly, in combination or as a package in the short term, to reduce harm; to take steps to improve the situation in the community and to improve local health and social care services for prostitutes:-

7.6 Enhanced Policing: Lothian and Borders Police will instigate high visibility patrols and other specific law enforcement initiatives in the area. The Police Prostitution Liaison Officer will remain proactive in the area. The Police have indicated that they will be willing to apply short term periods of intensive activity to the area, they are presently unable to sustain such an approach permanently.

7.7 Criminal Justice Services: The Social Work Department will engage with the Procurator Fiscal to explore ways of prioritising prostitutes charged with soliciting or breach of the peace Offences for the Diversion from Prosecution Scheme, thereby encouraging them towards rehabilitation services.

7.8 Anti Social Behaviour Orders (ASBOs): The Working Group has assessed the implications of applying ASBOs to street prostitutes to address the alarm and distress caused to the residents by specific behaviours such as drug-taking, aggressive behaviour etc. The ASBOs would seek to exclude persons from designated areas. The Working Group consulted other local authorities where there has been experience of using ASBOs, to identify the key issues and implications. The local authorities consulted reported the successful use of ASBOs in relation to street prostitutes. The Working Group will also consider the option of applying ASBOs to buyers of sex who frequent the area seeking the services of street prostitutes.

7.9 The application of ASBOs requires firm commitment from and close collaboration between the Council (Housing Department) and Lothian and Borders Police; the framework for this working relationship exists in the Housing/Police Protocol which was agreed earlier this year. The likely effects of applying ASBO to street prostitutes in Leith would be to displace prostitution and the resulting nuisance into other areas of the city. ASBOs, if breached, would increase the likelihood of female prostitutes being imprisoned.

7.10 Notwithstanding these concerns, ASBO's may at least bring some relief from the worst disturbance in residential areas and therefore recommends that they be sought and their effects monitored.

7.11 Improving the Clean Up of Detritus: Current street cleansing operations by the Council's Environmental and Consumer Services Department could be enhanced in areas predominantly used by prostitutes, particularly around the public parks and children's playgrounds in the Leith Links area, to remove needles and syringes, condoms etc. Consideration could be given to provision of additional temporary bins in areas of higher levels of sexual activity. Scot-PEP and other service providers engaging with prostitutes in the area should educate and encourage them to dispose of waste in a responsible manner. The cost of enhancing clean-up operations in the area would be in the order of £30,000 - £40,000 per annum

7.12 Neighbourhood Wardens: There has been some discussion about whether a form of warden could be developed to improve safety in the area, possibly following behind a period of intensive policing. This would be a very different role from that which currently exists in other parts of the city (eg Broomhouse) where wardens are involved in more traditional forms of anti-social behaviour. Notwithstanding the risks of such an approach it might be argued that with proper training such a service is less risky than the existing resident patrols. Further discussion on this matter will be required with Lothian and Borders Police. The annual cost of a Team of six Wardens would be approximately £150,000.

7.13 Drug Treatment and Rehabilitation: In order to mitigate the damaging consequences of increasing drug dependency by prostitutes it is proposed that:

i) The Social Work Department should explore the possibility of extending the proposal for a new Arrest Referral Project for drug users, submitted to the Scottish Executive in June, to cover Leith Police Station. An announcement on the outcome of this funding application is expected soon.

ii) Lothian NHS Board should consider enhancing primary care health services and fast-track access to Genito-Urinary Medicine services.

iii) The Social Work Department should consider providing funding (£20,000) for Scot-PEP from its allocation of from the Children's Fund for Tackling Drug Misuse, for the continuation of the Young Person's Project to support young women (under 21) to consider alternatives to prostitution and adopt healthier lifestyles.

iv) The Drug Action Team will explore ways of enhancing drug treatment and rehabilitation responses to sex industry workers through the existing network of specialist (addiction) services.

7.14The Working Group should remain constituted in the short term (possibly to December 2003) to oversee the implementation of these proposed problem-solving measures, subject to their approval by Council, and to act as a reference point for the residents' groups.

7 Conclusion

8.1 Despite the considerable work done in relation to this issue and the wide range of professional and local experience which has been applied, no straightforward solution to the problem of street prostitution in Leith has been identified. There is a possible opportunity in the longer term if the legislative position changes, but even that is not straightforward.

8.2 In the meantime it is possible that other measures could be applied to mitigate the serious effects of this problem for the local community. These are identified in Section 7 above but most are not currently funded. The Council must therefore determine whether it wishes officers to seek to identify funding sources for some or all of the measures recognising that this is likely to be at the expense of other commitments in the current financial year.

8 Financial Implications

8.1 The cost of enhancing street cleansing operations in the Leith Links area would be approximately £30,000 and an appropriate source of funding has yet to be identified by the Environmental and Consumer Services Department.

8.2 The annual cost of setting up a Neighbourhood Warden Team as a pilot project would be approximately £150,000 per annum. An appropriate source of funding has yet to be identified by the Housing Department.

8.3 The Social Work Department, in partnership with Midlothian Council has submitted a bid for £84,000 per annum to the Scottish Executive's Criminal Justice Division to develop the Arrest Referral Project for drug users. The outcome of the bid is awaited.

8.4 The grant of £20,000 to Scot-PEP for the Young Person's Project would be met from the Council's total allocation in 2003/04 of the Children's Fund for Tackling Drug Misuse made available by the Scottish Executive.

8.5 The cost of enhancing the existing network of drug treatment and rehabilitation responses to prostitutes would be contained as far as possible within the budget allocations of the Drug Action Team partners in 2003/04.

8.6 Further work on firming up the costs of the proposals and identifying appropriate sources of funding will be progressed by the Working Group following their consideration by Council.

8.7 It should be noted that no financial resources are available to the Housing and Environmental and Consumer Services Department at present in order for them to consider implementing the proposed measures which fall within their sphere of responsibility. Therefore, for some of these measures (9.1 and 9.2) to be implemented it would be necessary for Officers of the respective Departments to identify resources from elsewhere within the Departmental budgets to accommodate these new demands.

10 Recommendations

It is recommended that the City of Edinburgh Council:

10.1 notes the content of this report which details the nature and impact of the street prostitution in Leith, particularly since the cessation of the informal (non-harassment) tolerance zone in December 2001;

10.2 notes the issues and constraints in relation to the re-establishment of a `Tolerance Zone' in Edinburgh;

10.3 requests the Director of Housing to pursue ASBO's in consultation with the Chief Constable

10.4 authorises the Director of Social Work to allocate £20,000 from the Childrens Fund for Tackling Drug Misuse to Scot-PEP for the Young Person's Project

10.5 supports the Director of Social Work in working with the Procurator Fiscal to explore ways of prioritising prostitutes for the Diversion Scheme

10.6 notes that if the Arrest Referral scheme bid is successful, consideration will be given to extending the proposal to the Leith area

10.7 notes that Lothian Health will be asked to consider ways of enhancing relevant primary health services

10.8 notes that the Drug Action Team will explore ways of enhancing relevant

drug treatment and rehabilitative services

10.9 notes that an enhanced standard of environmental cleaning would cost approximately £30,000 and that this matter be considered in the forthcoming budget process.

10.10 notes the possible use of neighbourhood wardens and requests the working group to keep this under consideration as the effect of ASBO's and the other measures described above are monitored.

10.11 expresses to the Scottish Executive its concern regarding this matter and urges the Scottish Executive to conclude on an appropriate national legal framework as soon as possible.

Mark Turley Leslie J McEwan

Director of Housing Director of Social Work

 
   

Appendices

None

   

Contact/tel

Mark Turley, Director of Housing Tel No: 0131 529 7325

 

Ray de Souza, Social Work Department Tel No: 0131 553 8364

Wards affected

 
   

Background Papers

None


Eugene Windsor

Clerk to Local Government and Transport Committee

The Scottish Parliament

EDINBURGH

EH99 1SP

   
   
   
 

30 November 2003

Dear Mr Windsor,

PROSTITUTION TOLERANCE ZONES (SCOTLAND) BILL

Thank you for your letter of 12 November 2003, inviting me to make a new submission to the Committee for its deliberations on the above bill. I understand that the Committee will still have access to the evidence we submitted before, which was a response to the consultation stage of the previous bill approved by the City of Edinburgh Council on 27 June 2002. In addition, both the Director of Social Work and myself gave oral evidence to the Committee on 14 January 2003.

I would now wish to add to this evidence by submitting the enclosed report, which was approved by the Council on 13 November 2003. This covered measures which have been, and will be taken by the City of Edinburgh Council and its partners to address the key problems which have emerged since the cessation of the "Tolerance Zone" in Leith.

Since the non-harassment zone ended, the street prostitutes have dispersed across (mainly North) Leith and most of them are now working more discreetly or in isolation, many on residential side streets. The dispersal effect created new problems for residents and agencies, in particular: -

· more complaints to the Police and elected members from residents;

· an increase in public nuisance and fear of crime particularly on the part of female residents returning home;

· more waste in the area;

· increasing difficulties for the delivery of health and support services to street prostitutes;

· an increase in crime in the area such as increased `drug pimping', drug use and drug dealing.

An Officer Working Group convened by the Director of Social Work was set up earlier this year to look at these issues. Its membership comprised Chief and Senior Officers of the Council's Departments of Social Work, Housing and Environmental and Consumer Services, Lothian and Borders Police and Lothian NHS Board.

The following measures were approved by the Council on 13 November as ways to improve the situation in the community and to improve local health and social care services for prostitutes: -

· enhanced policing with high visibility patrols and other specific law enforcement initiatives in the area.

· increasing the scope for prostitutes charged with soliciting or breach of the peace offences to be considered for Diversion from Prosecution Schemes.

· applying Anti Social Behaviour Orders to street prostitutes who cause alarm and distress to residents, as well as applying ASBOs to buyers of sex who frequent the area seeking the services of street prostitutes.

· improving cleansing in the area;

· introducing Neighbourhood Wardens in the area;

· improving Drug Treatment and Rehabilitation services.

The Council noted the effectiveness of the non-harassment zone, which previously existed in Coburg Street, Leith, its benefits for the community, the prostitutes, and a range of service providers. However, the Council did not, and could not play a formal role in the establishment, re-siting or monitoring of a `Tolerance Zone' under the Law as it presently stands. Therefore, the Council wished to express to the Scottish Executive its concern regarding this matter and urges the Scottish Executive to conclude on an appropriate national legal framework as soon as possible.

The Council also noted that, should powers to establish a tolerance zone be available to local authorities, there would be considerable challenges ahead in terms of identifying appropriate and accessible sites to ensure the effectiveness of the zone.

We will be observing the progress of the Bill with keen interest.

Yours sincerely

KINGSLEY THOMAS

Executive Member for Health and Social Work

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