Enforcing Street Solicitation Laws

Victoria’s Sex Work Act 1994 (Vic) allows for both street-based sex workers and their clients to be charged by Victoria Police with the offence of solicitation. The crime of solicitation is a summary offence, which is heard at the Victorian Magistrates’ Court. A range of penalties can be imposed, including imprisonment.

How has the number of worker solicitation offences changed over time?

Source: Crime Statistics Agency (CSA)
  1. Offences relate to s13 (street sex work – offences by sex workers) of the Sex Work Act 1994 (Vic)
  2. Years are calendar years
  3. No data available prior to 2005
  4. Number of offences is not the same as number of offenders as one offender may be charged multiple times.
  5. Recorded crime statistics are based on data extracted by Victoria Police

Likely reasons for the decline in charges of solicitation laid against workers are:

  1. A reduction in the number of street-based sex workers as a result of shifting trends in the industry
  2. A particular change in the attitude of police towards street sex work, known as regulated tolerance

How has the number of client solicitation offences changed over time?

Source: Crime Statistics Agency (CSA)
  1. Offences taken from s12 (street sex work – offences by clients) of the Sex Work Act 1994 (Vic)
  2. Years are calendar years
  3. No data available prior to 2005
  4. Number of offences is not the same as number of offenders as one offender may be charged multiple times.
  5. Recorded crime statistics are based on data extracted by Victoria Police

Likely reasons for the decline in charges of solicitation laid against clients are:

  1. A reduction in the number of street-based sex workers as a result of shifting trends in the industry
  2. A particular change in the attitude of police towards street sex work, known as regulated tolerance

Are clients and workers charged equally?

Source: Crime Statistics Agency (CSA)
  1. Offences relating to ss12-13 (street sex work offences) of the Sex Work Act 1994 (Vic)
  2. Calculated via comparison of number of client solicitation recorded offences with number of sex worker solicitation recorded offences between 2005 and 2018.
  3. Between 2005 and 2018 there were 611 offences recorded against clients. During the same period there were 1100 offences recorded against sex workers.
  4. Number of offences is not the same as number of offenders. This is because one offender may be charged multiple times.
  5. Recorded crime statistics are based on data extracted by Victoria Police

What penalties were imposed by courts on workers charged with solicitation?

Source: Sentencing Advisory Council
  1. Penalties range from 1- 6 months’ imprisonment and fines of $826 – $9,913
  2. Penalties imposed on street-based sex workers charged with solicitation in a public place according to s13 of the Sex Work Act 1994 (Vic)
  3. Based on 41 cases heard in the Victorian Magistrates’ Court between 1 July 2013 and 30 June 2016. A case is a collection of one or more charges (of any offence) against a person sentenced at the one hearing.

What penalties were imposed by courts on clients charged with solicitation?

Source: Sentencing Advisory Council
  1. Penalties range from 1- 9 months’ imprisonment and fines of $1,652 – $14,869
  2. Penalties imposed on clients of street-based sex workers charged with solicitation in a public place according to s12 of the Sex Work Act 1994 (Vic)

  3. Based on 41 cases heard in the Victorian Magistrates’ Court between 1 July 2013 and 30 June 2016. A case is a collection of one or more charges (of any offence) against a person sentenced at the one hearing.

“Within 15–20 minutes the sex market was back in full swing.”

  1. Dr Ben Durant, Survival Stripped Bare: An Ethnography of Street Sex Workers in Dandenong, (2015) Australian Catholic University, p12

Last updated: 18 October 2019

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