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Detainees: Prostitution

Volume 488: debated on Friday 27 February 2009

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many individuals who had worked as a prostitute in the UK were subsequently detained in prison in each year since 2000. (258270)

I have been asked to reply.

The information requested is not held centrally. I refer the hon. Member to the answer given by my right hon. Friend the Minister of State for Justice (Mr. Hanson) to my hon. Friend the hon. Member for Bolton, South-East (Dr. Iddon) on 10 December 2008, Official Report, column 116W.

The legal background to the offence of being a common prostitute, loitering, or soliciting for the purposes of prostitution is contained in Section 1 of the Street Offences Act, 1959.

Under the Act the maximum penalty for this offence is a fine, not imprisonment. Figures obtained from the prison service IT system confirm that there are currently no women serving prison sentences for the offence. Non-payment of any fine accruing from the offence would be recorded as defaulting on the payment of the fine.

It is not known how many males or females who previously worked as prostitutes have subsequently been detained in prison.

This is the position regarding England and Wales; for information regarding the legal position and a response to the question as it applies to Scotland and Northern Ireland it would be necessary to approach the Scottish Government and the Northern Ireland Prison Service.