Vice Squad
Monday, May 24, 2004
Prostitution Policy Updates, Berkeley and Scotland

Ongoing efforts in Berkeley to decriminalize prostitution look like they have come to naught, at least for the time being. According to this article in the Contra Costa Times (registration required), speaker after speaker showed up at a Council meeting last week to argue for decriminalization. But the speakers turned out not to have much pull with the Council: "That's when the truth of the maxim 'All politics is local' became evident. Councilmembers noted that all the supporting speakers were from Oakland. The only Berkeley speaker was Ted Kubik, who complained bitterly about what he called 'a plague of (prostitutes), pimps and johns' on San Pablo Avenue." The decriminalization proposals were effectively tabled. (Vice Squad's most recent post on Berkeley prostitution was on March 12.

Meanwhile, in Scotland, the informal tolerance zones for soliciting that previously have been employed in Edinburgh and other Scottish cities may be on their way back, decked this time in legal formalities. Representatives of Scottish city councils are preparing to support a measure in the Scottish Parliament that would provide the legal framework for prostitution tolerance zones. The rationale is harm reduction, of course. In Edinburgh, "Figures released earlier this year show the annual rate of attacks on prostitutes has soared from 11 to 111 since the old non-harassment zone was scrapped." (The longstanding informal prostitution tolerance zone in Edinburgh apparently collapsed when the area near the zone became more upscale.) The bill in the Scottish Parliament "would allow councils to establish designated red-light tolerance zones where it would no longer be illegal to solicit and where health checks and other support could be offered to the women." Vice Squad's most recent post on the Scottish tolerance zones was on March 4.

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