Legal status England and Wales

In the UK, prostitution is not illegal, nevertheless the laws serve to make providing sex in exchange for money difficult and dangerous. Soliciting (advertising sexual services), streetwalking and brothels (where more than one woman sells sex in an apartment) are illegal.

Laws relating to prostitution

It is illegal

  • for a "common prostitute" to loiter or conduct solicitation in a street or public place is illegal, therefore outlawing street prostitution
  • for a potential client to solicit persistently, or solicit from a motor vehicle ("kerb crawling"). (In 1991 the head of the Crown Prosecution Service, Sir Allan Green, was caught committing this offence and resigned.)
  • to own or run a brothel consisting of any number of prostitutes and / or a madam
  • to supply or offer child prostitution (this is specifically illegal for the person paying (where child is defined as below 18)
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  • to work controlling prostitution for gain is an offence, banning pimping

The last offence replaced the similar "living on earnings of prostitution" under the Sexual Offences Act 1956.

In the UK there has been endless debates as to whether we should adopt ‘prostitution laws’ such as in the Netherlands or Germany. Regional police forces have wavered between zero tolerance of prostitutes and unofficially authorising illicit red light districts.

ECP, The English Collective of Prostitutes (now the International Prostitutes Collective) is an example organization that lobbies for the full legalisation of prostitution and since 1975, has been campaigning for the abolition of the prostitution laws,

The Government announced in January 2006, that in England and Wales it was considering allowing small brothels, whilst continuing the crackdown against kerb-crawling, which is seen as a nuisance. .....Is the law changing?

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"It takes a village to create a prostitute."


sexual harassment
verbal abuse
domestic violence
a racist practice
a violation of human rights
childhood sexual abuse
a consequence of male domination of women
a means of maintaining male domination of women
all of the above?



Please read the measures in the International Prostitute's Collective's Bill from the point of view of women’s safety and of legal rights.  It has been claimed that ‘tackling the demand’ by criminalising men who buy sexual services will increase safety, and the spectre of trafficking has been used to stifle debate and hide the evidence that points to the contrary.

News 2011: The very first man to be convicted of trafficking females from inside f the UK, in a case involving 2 Nigerian girls, has been jailed.

BBC News - Man jailed for trafficking Nigerian girls out of UK