Home » General News » Public Policy Exchange The Future of Sex Work in the UK: Protecting Women & Improving Economic Support- Webinar, 2nd May 2024

Public Policy Exchange The Future of Sex Work in the UK: Protecting Women & Improving Economic Support- Webinar, 2nd May 2024

The Future of Sex Work in the UK: Protecting Women & Improving Economic Support

Thursday, May 2nd 2024


Key Speakers Include:

Helena Croft MBE, Founder & Chief Executive of StreetlightUK

Dr Bev Orton, Lecturer in Criminology and Sociology at the University of Hull

Kate Lewis, Partnerships & Development Manager at the Nelson Trust

Esther, sex trade survivor and activist at Nordic Model Now!

Dr Niina Vuolajärvi, Assistant Professor in International Migration at the London School of Economics

Dr Victoria Bateman, Fellow and College Lecturer in Economics at the University of Cambridge

Event Details Website Register to Attend

According to the charity Streetlight UK, when asked, nine out of 10 women sex workers state that they would like to leave prostitution. At the same time, the cost-of-living crisis is forcing more women into sex work. In 2022, the campaign group English Collective of Prostitutes, recorded a 30% jump in the number of callers seeking support for starting sex work. 152 sex workers were murdered in the UK between 1990 and 2015 and Beyond the Streets note that 76% of those involved in prostitution experience some form of post-traumatic stress disorder. There were also 1,139 victims of trafficking for sexual exploitation in 2014, according to the House of Commons Home Affairs Committee. A 2015 National Ugly Mugs survey found 49% of sex workers were “worried” or “very worried” about their safety and 47% have been targeted by offenders. Meanwhile, 49% were either “unconfident” or “very unconfident” that police would take their reports seriously.

The sale and purchase of sexual services between consenting adults is legal in UK (except for Northern Ireland where it is illegal). However, the following activities related to prostitution are illegal under the Sexual Offences Act 2003: soliciting on the street or other public place, including someone in a vehicle; paying for the services of a sex worker who’s forced or threatened into it; owning or managing a brothel; pimping; or advertising sexual services, including putting cards in phone boxes.

According to National Ugly Mugs, sex workers are ten times safer working indoors than on the streets. Dan Vajzovic, the National Police Chief Council’s lead for prostitution, who has worked alongside government officials to reassess brothel keeping legislation, has called on the government to review prostitution laws to ensure sex workers can work together on the same premises to remain safe and “better enable the police to focus our resources on protecting sex workers and tackling those who are controlling or exploiting”. National Police Chiefs’ Council lead for prostitution and sex work, Assistant Chief Constable Nikki Holland, also notes that there is considerable variation in the policing approach to prostitution throughout the country, not all of which is consistent with national policy. Streetlight UK, meanwhile, highlight that there is a strong correlation between sex work and homelessness, sexual abuse, violence at home, runaways, drug use, time in care, poverty, debt, and poor education, and that as well as drawing individuals into the sex industry, these social factors can also be significant barriers to exiting.

This timely symposium aims to provide sex workers, safeguarding boards, police forces, local authorities, social care providers and other stakeholders with an opportunity to exchange views on priorities for reform of UK laws on sex work and develop strategies to better protect and support sex workers.


  • Evaluate the dangers inherent in sex work and how to improve current policy and training on the policing of sex work and the protection of people at risk of exploitation
  • Analyse the case for either fully decriminalising or banning sex work in the UK and the different options and international models available
  • Explore current reporting mechanisms and their effect on sex worker safety
  • Review the role of outreach support services and determine methods of prioritising their funding
  • Discuss the impact of the cost-of-living crisis on sex workers and how sex workers can access government support
  • Consider means of tackling rising poverty levels in order to prevent people being forced into sex work
  • Examine the different pathways available for exiting sex work

To register for the briefing, please click here.

Please feel free to circulate this information on to any relevant colleagues.
Kind regards,

Conference Team
Public Policy Exchange
Tel: 020 3137 8630
Fax: 020 3137 1459

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