‘It’s clear the issue needs to be revisited’

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IT is not a surprise that a new campaign is about to be launched to tackle the oldest profession on the streets of Edinburgh.

The Evening News has consistently highlighted the flaws in the prostitution law brought in more than four years ago, fearing that it would do little to tackle the underlying issues and only succeed in making streetwalking more dangerous as girls are forced away from main roads into unsafe areas.

The only surprise today is that the campaign is being launched again by residents’ groups, suggesting that the high-profile kerb-crawling crackdown has failed to achieve even that.

While figures show that the number of men charged doubled in a year following the introduction of the legislation, the Leith Links Residents Association clearly feels the early enthusiasm has disappeared just as quickly.

Prostitutes have once again been returning to Leith Links and Salamander Street on a nightly basis, no doubt now wise to the limitations of the law as it stands.

According to the campaigners, unless police overhear the “transaction” between the kerb-crawler and prostitute or unless the girl herself agrees to give evidence to shop her client, there is very little chance of a charge sticking.

It is clear that the whole issue needs to be revisited instead of settling for a halfway house which appears to benefit no-one.

Residents should not be forced to walk the gauntlet of prostitutes outside their homes in the evening, especially in what is otherwise a desirable part of the city in which to live and work.

But at the same time, no measure is going to work until we, as a society, have a proper debate about the sex industry and tackle the root causes. Those who sell sex and those who feel the need to kerb-crawl in search of it need to get proper help and support to change their ways.

It’s no surprise that there is no easy answer – but we must not stop looking for one.

Festival fun

News of a return of the Festival Cavalcade, or at least a new incarnation, has to be welcomed.

The Festival just isn’t the same without a free event such as this which opens up the fun to everyone in the city. We have reservations about staging it so early when many performers are not yet in town but hopefully this is the first step to returning the event to its former glory.

In the meantime, those behind the Jazz and Blues Festival who have helped make this happen deserve to be blowing their own trumpets.