Witnessing loitering and soliciting

28 September 2020

Not reviewed after the date of publication


For an offence of loitering/ soliciting there must be 2 separate occasions within 3 months. Are 2 police officers required to witness the soliciting/loitering for the offence to be complete or does this have to be the same officer that witnesses each occasion?


Section 1 of the Street Offences Act 1959 makes it an offence for a person to offer their services by way of loitering or soliciting in a street or public place for the purposes of prostitution.

Section 1(4) has been amended to insert that for the purposes of the section 1 offence, conduct is persistent if it takes place on 2 or more occasions in any period of 3 months.

To demonstrate 'persistence' under the amended legislation, two officers would need to witness the activity and administer the non-statutory 'prostitutes caution'. This caution differs from ordinary police cautions in that the behaviour leading to a caution may not itself be evidence of a criminal offence and there is no requirement for a person to admit guilt before being given a prostitutes caution. Details of these cautions are recorded at the local police station. Insertion of the word "persistently" provides opportunities for the police to direct that individual to non-criminal justice interventions to help address the issues that may have caused them to enter prostitution and to ultimately find routes out.

The legislation does not specify whether it can be the same officer witnessing, however in our opinion, there would be no issue with that being the case, as long as the cautions above have also been issued.

The above has been taken from CPS guidance, which may be accessed via the following:


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