Escorting in the UK: Health, safety and the law

Rather then turning a blind eye to the sex industry and leaving escorts to discover the boundaries of the law themselves, the UK in general — and the NHS in particular — along with other government health authorities are now accepting of the existence and function of this industry in society. As a result of this growing trend of acceptance, those in it are becoming better protected and increasingly able to operate in a safer and more regulated environment where there is advice and help at hand.

UK escort law however has had a chequered and turbulent history, with Parliament and the Courts regularly coming to loggerheads; this means things are always changing, and rapidly too so there’s a lot to be aware of…

The Role of The Law

UK law surrounding escorting unsurprisingly has some rather grey and complex areas that are difficult to decipher and interpret. First off, in the UK it is legal to exchange participation in sexual activities for goods or money – HOWEVER, the activities conducted, the location where the services take place and the external participation from other parties are often illegal meaning to operate legally as an escort in the UK you need to know the law.

The Main English Legislation Concerning Escorts (applies to England, Wales and Northern Ireland)

Sexual Offences Act 2003

This act covers sexual abuse in addition to prostitution but states that it is illegal to intentionally control and/or cause a third person to become a prostitute for your own personal gains. You can gain from managing a brothel or agency legally, but it’s the act of controlling sex workers for your own benefit that is illegal – this move to an emphasis on control now means that families of sex workers can no longer be charged with living on immoral earnings as a result of prostitution and as you can insinuate from the above, the act predominantly targets those controlling prostitution in the UK, not those actually in it. The act is also in the process of being updated, you can view the current relevant section here.

The Policing and Crime Act 2009

This act focuses around street work in the UK, which is one area where sex workers can and do really get into trouble.

If you persistently loiter “in a street or public place for the purposes of offering services as a prostitute” you can be convicted.

The word “persistently” is defined as “more than twice in a three-month period”; this makes it relatively easy to break this law. For people who intend to buy the services of sexual workers there is also a penalty for prowling the streets, would-be-customers do not have to kerb-crawl persistently as with the sex workers themselves and can be punished simply for one instance of kerb crawling. The usual punishment is a fine, but this can be accompanied by additional penalties such as supervisor meetings for escorts and driving bans for customers.

Additionally, it is useful to note that UK priorities fall on brothel chains and street work rather than independents and indoor work therefore it is recommended that you chose one of the lower priority options working indoors and not out on the street.

The Role of Health and Safety

The law is doing it’s best to both protect and respect those working as escorts in the UK – our NHS (National Health Service) is also doing it’s bit to help with really honest and useful health and safety advice for sex workers readily available. The Open Doors website for example has some great sections on keeping safe on the street and what to do if there is a problem. The police and other health groups too patrol street-worker hot spots regularly offering support and helping to keep sex workers from harm.

Ugly Mugs

There is an Ugly Mugs scheme available in the UK run as a non-profit group. This scheme is represented by a website where sex workers can log in and search online through a database for dangerous and known individuals in their area. Escorts can also list individuals they have been attacked by personally too, helping to prevent them doing it again to others. This scheme is a great way to spread the word and keep sex workers aware of dangerous people — to join you simply register online with a username and password, this is then activated by the organisation who enable you to log on and use the service.

Working Conditions

Most resources advise UK escorts to work in pairs or small groups or at least give that illusion when dealing with customers. Operating in areas with CCTV and good security is also highly recommended — on the streets this translates to areas that are well lit and nearby people and shops. It is preferable to be recognised and have others aware of where you are, who you are with and what you are up to at all times too – the resources with regards to some more specific guidelines are numerous and all give sound, easy to follow advice, some of the best of these are listed below.

This is not a brothel. There are no prostitutes at this address.

Summary

To summarise, the legal dos and don’ts of escorting in the UK are:

IT IS LEGAL TO:

  • Work alone indoors as a sex worker
  • Work in a brothel as a sex worker
  • Work for an agency as a sex worker

IT IS ILLEGAL TO:

  • Run a brothel or agency from which you intentionally profit and manage
  • Persistently street walk with the intention of offering your sexual services
  • Kerb-crawl with the intention of using a street escorts services

Useful Resources for UK Escorts

There are a number of resources available, both informative and advisory about the escort agency in the UK, here’s a few we recommend:

Escorting in any country is dangerous and fraught with risk, however there are measures in place to protect sex workers and prosecute pimps and those intentionally profiting from sex. There are also great resources available if you have Internet access and some great facilities also around for escorts to ensure both their sexual and mental health remains stable. Many of the established and reputable agencies are also good to work for and give you peers plus a degree of safety — Night and Day Escorts in Portsmouth is one.