Ian (lovingboth) wrote,

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Hello lawyers :)

Is there a definition of "public place" as it relates to soliciting in England and Wales?

The exisiting offence is s1 Street Offences Act 1959: 'to loiter or solicit in a street or public place for the purpose of prostitution'. It then goes on to define 'street' as including bridges, subways and doorways onto the street etc etc etc... but I can't find a definition of 'public place'.

Until repealled, the Sexual Offences Act 1956 prohibited men to 'solicit or importune in a public place for immoral purposes' (no cruising, in other words) but again, I can't find a definition.

Another act, London Local Authorities Act 2004, says s22's '"public place" includes any highway and any other premises or place in the open to which at the material time the public have or are permitted to have access (whether on payment or otherwise).'

The problem with that definition is its scope. The public is admitted to a wide range of places... yet I can't find any instances where, for example, prostitutes working indoors have been charged with 'soliciting'.

Another law, the Charities and Trustee Investment (Scotland) Act 2005, snatched at random, says 'public place' means 'any road' and 'any other place .. to which members of the public have access .. is not within a building [except for] a public area within any station, airport or shopping precinct or is any other similar public area' - unless the public have to pay / have a ticket for admission. Phew.

So the definition is generally inconsistent, which doesn't help.

I'm asking partly because someone's asked me about soliciting in hotel bars and partly because Scotland is looking to change its soliciting laws to include an even wider definition of 'public place'.

(Don't get me started on the Scottish Police Federation who want to delete 'public place', making buying and selling of sex illegal...)
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