A SO-CALLED blind-eye policy to prostitution in the Scottish capital was an official attempt to minimise the impact of HIV and Aids in the city.

It has emerged the policy had been formalised and involved the then Lothian and Borders Police, Edinburgh Council, health workers and the Crown Office.

Saunas were allowed to operate as they were said to be providing workers with condoms and critical health advice.

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It was prompted by the rise of HIV and Aids in the 1980s.

The nature of the policy led to 11 cases being dropped after a series of raids instigated by former Police Scotland Chief Constable Sir Stephen House across Edinburgh in 2013.

The official practice only fully came to light when the Operation Windermere cases came to be prosecuted last year.

There have now been calls for the policy to be updated as prosecutors said moves have been taken to "ensure that this issue does not prevent future prosecutions".

A Crown Office spokesman said: "In prosecuting the Operation Windermere cases in 2015, new information came to light about the then local Procurator Fiscal's knowledge of 30 years ago the public health measures adopted in Edinburgh by the then local authority, health bodies and Lothian and Borders Police to minimise the impact of prostitution.

"As a result, Crown Counsel decided it was not in the public interest to continue with those prosecutions.

"Steps have been taken to ensure that this issue does not prevent future prosecutions."

He added: "Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service works closely with Police Scotland to ensure that the shared focus of law enforcement and the prosecution service is and remains on those who coerce, exploit, control and abuse those engaged in prostitution.

"COPFS recognises the involvement of serious and organised crime in prostitution, as well as the relevance of human trafficking in this context.

"Prosecutors are committed to the robust investigation and prosecution of those involved in the organisation of prostitution and will use every tool available to them to hold perpetrators to account including using proceeds of crime legislation to confiscate assets."

Rhoda Grant, the Highland and Islands Labour MSP who has campaigned for laws making paying for sex illegal in Scotland, was reported in the Sunday Mail as saying: “I’m disappointed if there were documents being used to stop prosecutions and I would sincerely hope that steps are being taken to make sure that won’t be an influence again.

"I was aware that a policy existed but not a document. Hopefully that document will be superseded so that can never happen again.

“I can understand at the time it was about keeping people safe.

"It was probably done for all the right reasons. But the law is the law.”

Operation Windermere was launched with 150 police officers along with social workers and health and safety investigators just a few months after the formation of the single police force.

The legal costs for Edinburgh City Council over licensing appeal cases relating to saunas earlier hit £36,000.