The Sexual Exploitation Bill 2019-21 introduced by Diana Johnson MP would not apply to Scotland, as Criminal law is a devolved issue and therefore under the remit of the Scottish Government.
The Scottish Government are holding Scotland’s first national consultation on sex work to discuss Scotland’s future approach to this important issue within the context of how women and girls should be treated in an equal society. The consultation, which closed on 10 December, asks broad questions on how best to challenge men’s demand, reduce the harms associated with sex work and support women involved to exit.
The consultation does not propose changes to the criminal law, though clearly it is open to respondents to advocate either for or against such changes. It is already a crime in Scotland to publicly solicit or loiter for the purposes of purchasing sex.
The Scottish Government have asked support organisations, peer to peer networks such as ScotPep and Umbrella Lane, and those with direct, lived experience to engage with the consultation to help to shape future policy development and inform Scotland’s approach to this important issue. The Scottish Government welcome the efforts of all organisations to encourage those with lived experience to come forward and engage in this process.
The Scottish Government have also awarded funding of more than £60,000 to the Encompass Network to enable Covid-focussed services for destitution support, trauma counselling, advocacy and to provide a bridge to national mainstream support. The fund is available to women, regardless of whether they are active in sex work and have no intention to leave or are looking for help to exit.