POLICE Scotland has been warned to take into account different approaches to prostitution across the country after a series of raids in Edinburgh and Fife last week.

Councillor Martin Greig, the chairman of Aberdeen Com-munity Safety Partnership, spoke out after the new single force's raids on alleged brothels, which resulted in 30 women of various nationalities being interviewed in connection with prostitution.

Until the introduction of new kerb-crawling laws in 2007, Aberdeen was the only place in Scotland with a prostitute management zone. Its supporters claimed this made it easier to help those forced into the vice trade.

Councillor Greig, who stressed he backed the recent raids, said an "imposed single approach" from Police Scotland could mean progressive policies to tackle prostitution at a local level being lost.

The force took over policing the whole of Scotland from eight separate forces in April.

Mr Greig said he was concerned a blanket policy would not be right in tackling prostitution in different regions. He said: "The single approach to policy is unhelpful as there is not always one right answer to tackling crime and disorder.

"There's been a steady move away from on-street prostitution to hidden prostitution which has been very much assisted by sharing mobile phone and internet information."

He added: "I think the raids are to be welcomed. There are a great deal of women who are operating indoors and clearly the best way of tackling this problem is relying on intelligence and when necessary carrying out raids."

He said no division of Police Scotland has a "monopoly on good ideas" and local divisions should be allowed to find new methods of policing the problem.

"It is important local areas are allowed to develop and experiment with new solutions to protect victims," he said.

Grampian Police had improved its work with prostitutes with its award-winning Operation Begonia, using a victim-based approach instead of just enforcement.

Luan Grugeon, chief executive of Aberdeen-based charity Drugs Action, said: "Each area has quite unique issues in relation to prostitution. Our experience to date with what was previously Grampian Police is that we worked together to find local solutions to the challenges, so I would want to be sure a local approach remains wherever possible."

Mrs Grugeon said Drugs Action had a good relationship with local police when it came to sharing information about vulnerable women and encouraging them to report attacks by clients.

She added: "It's important the police have the scope to work with what's going to be best in the local situation and ensuring women and anyone else affected by prostitution are all kept safe."

Regional variations in policing policy have been highlighted under Police Scotland, creating legal problems. Edinburgh's policy towards prostitution meant city officials had to defend perceived leniency on the practice.

The council said it would act under licensing legislation if criminality was found by the raids.

Edinburgh-based charity Scot-Pep, which works to protect the health of prostitutes, said it was concerned by the raids, in which officers questioned customers and prostitutes in the street.

A spokesman said: "Scot-Pep are very concerned about reports we received from women involved in the raids and question the assertion that this is about keeping people safe. Is it safe to instill fear among sex workers of police and social services?

"We remain extremely worried as to whether this is a taste of things to come in light of the attempt to introduce a Bill to criminalise the purchase of sex. We advise all sex workers to take extra precautions at this time."

A Police Scotland spokeswoman said: "The single service provides the opportunity for a more consistent national approach to policing.

"Built into this, is the flexibility to deal with local issues, including those around licensing.

"Along with our partners, we are dedicated to tackling organised crime, protecting people from harm and keeping our communities safe.

"The Police Scotland approach ensures not only that everyone shares the same focus, but also the ability to adapt to local needs."