The Law


What is the current law on prostitution?

The laws around prostitution in England and Wales are far from straight-forward. The act of prostitution is not in itself illegal – but a
string of laws criminalises activities around it. Under the Sexual Offences Act 2003, it is an offence to cause or incite prostitution or control it for personal gain.

The 1956 Sexual Offences Act bans running a brothel and it’s against the law to loiter or solicit sex on the street. Kerb-crawling is also banned, providing it can be shown the individual was causing a persistent annoyance.

Adverts placed in phone boxes have been banned since 2001. Human trafficking, a component of modern prostitution, is also covered by the law. There are also general laws on public nuisance and decency which can be used to target the sex trade.

The law in Scotland is broadly similar but was recently toughened up around kerb crawling and seeking the services of a prostitute.

What does the law mean by a brothel?

If more than one person (the law is gender neutral) is available in a premises for paid sex, then that is a brothel. However, if one woman works alone, she is not keeping a brothel.

More on the law can be found here: