Today, in a Meeting of the Scottish Parliament, during Justice and Veterans Portfolio Question Time, Ruth Maguire MSP asked a supplementary question, asking the Scottish Government when action will be taken to make it a criminal offence to enable or profit from the prostitution of another person.

Ruth Maguire (Cunninghame South) (SNP)

Trafficking gangs are motivated purely by profit. To end their cruel trade, we must disrupt the market. When will the Scottish Government take action in that regard by making it a criminal offence to enable or profit from the prostitution of another person, ending male demand by criminalising paying for sex, so that Scotland will no longer be a place where such criminal gangs can operate in plain sight on so-called adult services websites?

Ash Regan

Police Scotland will actively investigate all reports of sexual exploitation, including reports of online sexual exploitation. Procuring for the purposes of prostitution is still an offence if it is committed online.

However, we know that more needs to be done with the powers that are available to us to disrupt that activity and to shut down the routes to exploiting people. We are committed to the development of a model for Scotland that effectively tackles and challenges men’s demand for prostitution. The multi-agency working group that is considering the principles to underpin that model held its penultimate meeting yesterday.

An emerging theme from its work, which I know that Ruth Maguire understands very well, is that, on this issue, online advertising cannot be seen in isolation. It is synonymous with human trafficking, and it intersects with many other forms of gendered violence. We will take that into account as we design the model in consultation with stakeholders. We welcome the views of the cross-party group on commercial sexual exploitation as part of that process.

Watch the exchange here: