POLICE have launched an urgent internal probe after confidential documents identifying a sex worker were found dumped in a public park.
The dossier named the woman and revealed her address, date of birth and physical description.
The sensitive haul was found beside a busy pathway at Leith Links by a member of the public who has now handed them back to the police.
The documents included an e-mail containing guidance on dealing with street prostitutes in the Leith area and an example of a formal caution issued to a woman, as well as another booklet containing a mobile phone number.
He said: “I was utterly shocked when I realised what it was. Anyone could have found those papers and decided to turn up at that woman’s door.”
The man claims staff at Leith police station seemed uninterested when he handed them in.
He added: “I said I hoped the person responsible was disciplined, and was surprised I was not asked for my details or for information about when or precisely where the documents were found.”
A Police Scotland source branded the apparent breach “sloppy police work”.
He said: “It doesn’t look professional or instil confidence if it’s found to be a lapse.”
Ruth Morgan Thomas, one of the founding members of sex worker charity Scot-Pep, who now acts as global coordinator of the Network of Sex Work Projects, called the discovery “shocking”.
She said: “This is an absolute violation of this woman’s rights. You don’t expect the police to jeopardise safety in this way. I would really like to hear an explanation of how these documents came to be found.”
Rhoda Grant MSP, who has proposed a Purchase of Sex Bill in the hope it will lead to the prosecution of the buyers of sex, said the breach was “horrendous”.
She said: “People who end up in prostitution are already in a dangerous place and it’s up to society to protect them. It would appear in this instance the police have fallen far short.”
Margo MacDonald, the independent MSP who has campaigned to keep Edinburgh’s prostitution tolerance zones, said the breach as “worrying”.
After being contacted by the Evening News, Police Scotland confirmed an immediate investigation was being launched.
Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill said he had “no doubt” Police Scotland would conduct a thorough inquiry.
A Police Scotland spokesman said: “We are carrying out an investigation in order to establish how these documents came to be lost in a public place”.
He added: “We are making contact with the woman concerned in order to inform her of the matter.”