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, aimed at "protecting the vulnerable and targeting the abusers".

Laws to criminalise those who use prostitutes came into force more than five years ago. The 2007 Prostitution (Public Places) Scotland Act gives police the power to arrest people attempting to secure the services of prostitutes.Previously, the law in Scotland criminalised those selling sex on the streets but largely ignored the demand side.

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The guidelines are in two parts, distinguishing between buyers and sellers of sex. The 2007 Act "criminalises the act of a purchaser who attempts to engage in prostitution", and 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 appropriate.

Solicitor general Lesley Thomson, QC, said: "The Lord Advocate's guidelines are aimed at protecting the vulnerable and targeting the abusers."