Indoor Sex Work Project

Decriminalisation of Prostitution in England and Wales - what do indoor sex workers want?

Earlier this year, the Home Affairs Select Committee suggested that the Government would be wise to completely decriminalise prostitution, or direct sex work. For those of us who are interested in sex worker’s rights to be able to work safety, this news was an unforeseen and welcome shift in ideas. Up until recently, policy has focused on a criminalisation agenda towards sex workers and then later on, their clients.

Although the sale of sex is legal, the law is contradictory since it criminalises other activities which need to occur in order to facilitate the transaction. This means sex workers and their clients risk criminal sanction for trying to engage in work and purchase.

Why am I doing this study?

The Home Affairs Select Committee in their report noted that there was a need for more empirical research to be undertaken with indoor based sex workers. This study is concerned not only with indoor worker’s opinions with regards to the current state of play, but also if they want legislative change, and if so, what exactly this should look like. Simply, is decriminalisation the best way forward for the indoor sector – and if it is, how exactly should it be enacted?

The wider research question asks wether decriminalisationn alone and of itself is enough, or must it be accompanied with statutes which protect the working and human rights of sex workers? It is acknowledged that it is unlikely that, in the first instance, the social stigma which society holds for sex work will be eradicated. Thus, should new legislation be accompanied by a long standing campaign to alter perceptions and inform the public that sex workers perform a service which is indeed a form of labour.

As an ex-industry worker myself, I can contemplate these dilemmas forever. However there is a real need to speak to workers and capture exactly what they want. Given the recent public policy exchange event (October 2016) was attended by no policy makers, the concern is that any change may occur without the primary input of sex workers. Although many academics and support groups have provided evidence to the Committee, it must be said policy missed a fruitful opportunity to hear from an active sex worker that day, as well as a host of other individuals who communicate with sex workers on a regular basis.

Participants Needed

Are you currently working indoors?

I am looking for participants who would be interested in taking part in an interview with me – either in person or via Skype, in order to give their experiences of working indoors and their feelings on what any change should look like. To take part, I ask that you;

Are currently working in the indoor sex industry, or have been involved over the last 24 months.

In this research, the indoor sex industry relates to brothel / sauna / flat / independent direct sex work or prostitution as it is commonly referred to.

Are over 18 years of age

If you would like more information, please email me at – I can provide information sheet and consent forms before you decide if you’d like to get involved.

As a small token of appreciation for your help, I will provide you with a £20 voucher which can be used on

Any travel expenses you incur as a result of coming to speak to me will be covered.

Interviews will take up no more than one hour of your time, and you will be completely anonymous in any of the study’s outputs, such as evidence submitted to the Home Office, Journal articles, and anything else.

I am keen for the research to accurately capture sex workers opinions and wants from changes which directly impact upon their lives. I am a staunch advocate of sex workers rights and personally regard the industry to be a form of labour. However, this study is not about me and therefore all participants will be invited ti inspect my interpretations of their words so I can be sure I am accurately recording lived experiences and opinions.

Individuals / organisations

I’m also looking to speak to any individuals or organisations who work alongside people involved in the indoor sector in any capacity. I am happy to come to you at a time and place that suits you. If you are able to help please email me at – I am able to answer any questions you may have prior to taking part.

About me

I am an ex-industry worker and sociologist based at Leeds Beckett University. My research background to date has looked at the experiences of street based sex workers in Scotland following the criminalisation of clients in 2007 under the Prostitution Public Places (Scotland) Act. I also looked at the moral crusade against street based workers in Edinburgh as a result of urban gentrification.

My PhD was an ethnographic study looking at working conditions in lap-dancing clubs in Scotland and the ways in which the industry has changed in accordance with social and economic shifts. I’ve also been a researcher on the Student Sex Work Project which ran from Swansea University and I currently volunteer with Basis Sex Work Yorkshire.