Kerb crawlers caught trying to pick up prostitutes could face a driving ban over and above any other sentence imposed by a court, prosecutors have warned.
The cautionary note was sounded by the Crown Office as it issued fresh guidelines to police about offences related to prostitution. The guidelines are aimed at "protecting the vulnerable and targeting the abusers", senior law officials said.
Laws to criminalise those who use prostitutes came into force more than five years ago. The 2007 Prostitution (Public Places) Scotland Act, passed by Parliament in February that year, gives police the power to arrest people attempting to secure the services of prostitutes, a power previously unavailable to them.
Previously, the law in Scotland criminalised those selling sex on the streets but largely ignored those who demand their services.
The guidelines are in two parts, distinguishing between the buyers and sellers of sex. The 2007 Act "criminalises the act of a purchaser who attempts to engage in prostitution", whereas the 1982 Civic Government Act "criminalises the act of an individual who for the purposes of prostitution loiters or solicits in a public place".
A subsequent order made last year allowed for kerb crawlers convicted of a relevant offence to be disqualified from driving if they were driving or in charge of a vehicle at the time.
The Crown Office said the guidelines, from the Lord Advocate to Scotland's chief constables, have been reviewed to help police carry out their duties and make sure all prosecution instructions to officers are fit for purpose. Official statistics show that 217 people had court proceedings brought against them last year for offences associated with prostitution.
Solicitor general Lesley Thomson QC said: "Prostitution represents an insidious form of abuse of women and men. The Lord Advocate's guidelines are aimed at protecting the vulnerable and targeting the abusers.
"Our objectives are to tackle the risk of sexual and physical abuse of women and men and to address the significant nuisance and potential danger for the communities in which prostitution takes place.
"We continually monitor and review our prosecution policies with the police and other members of the criminal justice system to ensure they continue to meet the public interest."