Note: One of the challenges in examining prostitution is the absence of robust data. The “facts” set out below have been submitted to the Committee in evidence but should be treated with caution and are open to dispute. Terminology is also disputed, with some opposition to the description “sex workers”. Our use of the term in this report is a neutral one and refers to female, male or transgender adults who receive money in exchange for sexual services.
- Around 11% of British men aged 16–74 have paid for sex on at least one occasion, which equates to 2.3 million individuals.
- The number of sex workers in the UK is estimated to be around 72,800 with about 32,000 working in London.
- Sex workers have an average of 25 clients per week paying an average of £78 per visit.
- In 2014–15, there were 456 prosecutions of sex workers for loitering and soliciting.
- An estimated 152 sex workers were murdered between 1990 and 2015. 49% of sex workers (in one survey) said that they were worried about their safety.
- There were 1,139 victims of trafficking for sexual exploitation in 2014, and 248 in April to June 2015 (following implementation of the Modern Slavery Act 2015).
The main legislation relating to prostitution is contained in the following Acts:
- Sexual Offences Act 2003
- Policing and Crime Act 2009
- Criminal Justice and Police Act 2001 (in relation to placing of advertisements relating to prostitution)
- Modern Slavery Act 2015 (in relation to trafficking for sexual exploitation)
- Serious Crime Act 2015 (in relation to sexual exploitation of children).
The Appendix to this Report sets out further details on existing legislation, supplied by the Home Office.