New laws to protect vulnerable women and dampen the demand for prostitution will come into effect on 1 April, the Government has announced.
Starting next month, it will be an automatic offence to pay for sexual services with a prostitute who is subject to exploitative conduct, such as force, deception or threats - it will no longer be an excuse to say "I did not know" and men found guilty face a criminal record and a £1,000 fine.
Moreover, men hunting for sex on the street can now be arrested on their first offence - police will no longer need to establish they are "persistently" kerb crawling before they can arrest them.
Other measures include:
- Giving courts greater power to permanently close down premises associated with prostitution and pornography offences.
- A new penalty for the offence of loitering or soliciting for the purposes of prostitution. The penalty will include a requirement for women to attend meetings to address the causes of their involvement, designed to help them to leave street prostitution, and can be used by courts instead of a fine.
- Changing the law to amend the offensive term 'common prostitute'.
Home Office Minister Alan Campbell said:
"We are determined to tackle the demand for prostitution and provide help for those who wish to leave prostitution.
"These new measures build on the significant action we have already taken to tackle prostitution and trafficking for sexual exploitation. They will help bring greater protection to vulnerable people involved in prostitution."