Common prostitute

"Common prostitute" is a term used in English statute law related to prostitution. Its first use in English law was in the Vagrancy Act of 1824.

As of 2007, it is still in use, as part of the definition of the offence of loitering or soliciting for prostitution in Section 1 of the Street Offences Act 1959, which states: "It shall be an offence for a common prostitute to loiter or solicit in a street or public place for the purpose of prostitution.", thus apparently creating an offence which only applied to those designated as "common prostitutes" and not to others.

The case of Director of Public Prosecutions v Bull [1994] 158 J.P. 1005 determined that the term could only be applied to female, and not male, prostitutes.

The term is now widely regarded as archaic, stigmatising, and offensive, and a number of failed attempts have been made since the 1920s to enact new legislation which would replace the wording with a solicitation law that applied to both sexes equally, and did not create an offence that could only be committed by a special class of person.

In 2007, the government announced that it would introduce new legislation which would eliminate the use of the term, and replace it with new language which world apply equally to males and females.

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