Prostitution Laws in the UK

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While most pages on the wiki use the term *escort*, this page uses the legal term *prostitute*


PUNTING IS LEGAL. BEING A PROSTITUTE IS LEGAL. Most paid for sex in the UK as described on UK punting reviews is 100% legal. Some related things are illegal though. As a punter, it is wise to reflect on what is legal, what is enforced, and if needed, the consequence of being accused of an illegal activity.

The main thing illegal is punting with a prostitute that is underage (under 18), forced/coerced, or trafficked. Note: it is no defence at all if you don't know she was underage or trafficked. The penalty can be life changing. And if you do this, you are a total low-life arsehole bastard.

If you suspect a trafficked prostitute, call crimestoppers.

Otherwise, fill your boots! Enjoy this legal hobby!

England, Scotland and Wales

For England and Wales, here is a link to the actual CPS rules. Prostitution and Exploitation of Prostitution


In England, Wales and Scotland, it is legal for consenting adults to agree to a money-for-sex exchange. However, there are a number of related activities, including soliciting in a public place, kerb crawling, owning or managing a brothel and pimping that are classified as illegal. Furthermore, in England, Wales and in Northern Ireland it is an offence to pay for sex with a prostitute who has been “subjected to force” and this is a strict liability offence (clients can be prosecuted even if they did not know the prostitute was forced).

Please notice also that although the age of consent for non-commercial sex is 16, it is illegal to buy sex from a person younger than 18.

As long as you visit an independent prostitute, aged 18 or over, you are not breaking the law.


There are many brothels in the UK. How open they are depends on the location. For example, the three remaining saunas in Edinburgh are brothels. Similarly in Manchester town centre, there are 3 that are easily identifiable from the street, and several more in the area. Not at all secret. These are allowed to stay open simply because the topcop in the area (probably with agreement from regional CPS) chooses to ignore them. The owners and those running it are breaking the law. As a punter you are not breaking the law by visiting. Other regions (e.g London) have no obvious brothels, though as described below, many setups are legally the same as the blatant ones in Edinburgh or Manchester.

Beyond the obvious ones, any premises (e.g. flats, saunas, massage parlours) may be classified as a brothels if they are used by more than one man or woman for the purpose of prostitution, whether on the same day or on different days. So, if you see a prostitute, say on a Monday at a particular flat, and another prostitute the next day in the same flat then the premises will still count as a brothel, even though there is never more than one person working at any one time.

Where rooms or flats in a building are let separately to different individuals offering sexual services, the premises as a whole may still count as a brothel if the individuals are effectively working together. Evidence of shared keys, washing and toilet facilities, staircases, tenancy agreements, etc. may still be relevant.

A punter could only get prosecuted if it was proved that a prostitute in the brothel was being coerced and/or was underage. Aside from that, visiting a brothel (even though they are illegal for the pimp) is not an offence for the punter or for the prostitute. It's the owner/madam/pimp and anyone that actively helps them run it that could be prosecuted for 'Causing or inciting prostitution for gain' and/or 'Controlling prostitution for gain'.

If you punt with a trafficked escort, you are breaking the law. If you are reasonably sure an escort is being trafficked (not just guessing), report it here:

In the unlikely scenario that the brothel gets raided by the police while you are visiting, you may be asked to give your details. You must do so as giving false details may land you in trouble.

Street walkers

Soliciting (i.e talking to and trying to book) prostitutes on the street is illegal. This is generally not tightly enforced in the UK, and in a few places (a zone in Leeds) it is legal.

It used to be that law enforcement needed to prove persistence or nuisance. That is not true today based on laws pased in 2003 and amended in 2009. Soliciting is a 'summary-only offence' which means 'A criminal offence which is normally tried in a magistrates' court and which is generally considered to be less serious than other types of offences.'

Meeting prostitutes in bars

Just like on the street, this is illegal. This is even less likely to be enforced by the police.

What about Trafficking

If you suspect trafficking, it is your job to report it. You can do this anonymously. Do it right away.

Thread on trafficking

Northern Ireland

A version of the Nordic model.

Prostitution in Northern Ireland is governed by the Human Trafficking and Exploitation (Criminal Justice and Support for Victims) Act (Northern Ireland) 2015, which makes it illegal to pay for sex in Northern Ireland.

Interestingly, this 2015 law also overturns soliciting as a crime, so if one picks up a prostitute on the street in NI, it is only the punter who has committed a crime.

There have been punters arrested in NI, but the published words of the police say their focus is on trafficking and exploitation.

A paper from Queens University Belfast on the results of the 2015 law. The review reported that, in the period from June 2015 to December 2018, there had been 15 arrests and two convictions for purchasing sex and 31 arrests and two convictions for human trafficking for sexual exploitation.

A review of the Queens paper that ignores the conclusions. *Sigh*

What about the Pimp?

By pimp, we mean a person (man or woman) who manages prostitutes, runs a brothel, or even organises a party. While it is unlikely to be enforced, a strict reading of the law says that if you book a hotel room, book 2 prostitutes and organise 3 other punters to join you (you plan a party), you have become a pimp.

The two laws which cause trouble are 'Exploitation of Prostitution - Causing or Inciting Prostitution for Gain: Section 52 Sexual Offences Act 2003' and 'Controlling Prostitution for Gain: Section 53 Sexual Offences Act 2003'.

These are more serious crimes than soliciting. On summary conviction, a person is liable to imprisonment for a term not exceeding 6 months or a fine not exceeding the statutory maximum or both. On conviction on indictment, a person is liable to imprisonment for a term not exceeding 7 years. Both offences are ‘lifestyle offences’ for the purposes of the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002.

Pimps are sometimes arrested and charged in the UK. Parties have been shut down, e.g. Cambridge parties.

What about Adultwork? What about online agencies

Advertising prostitution is not illegal. Most think Adultwork and other web sites are legal.

Agencies are similarly legal for the most part. Most are careful to just advertise and not profit from prostitution. They just profit from the advert. However, some do things which are illegal, such as running a flat, recruiting prostitutes and so on. If the CPS wanted to go after a big London agency they might succeed. However this has not happened in recent times. And in any case, there is no crime for the punter or prostitute.

What about massage parlours that offer happy ending?

A massage parlour is legal. But if the masseuse (or masseur) offers sex, blow job or hand job (happy ending) then it become a brothel. As described above, this results in no crime for the punter (or masseuse) but makes the owner and other managers at risk. There are very few massage parlours shut down in the UK.


UKP Threads


Why do guys ask about sex with sisters? Or mother daughter? Anyway, if you really want to know:

The term incest is no longer used 'legally' but instead sex with adult (over16) relatives is covered under section 64 and 65 of the Sexual Offences Act 2003

The sex however must be 'penetrative' in nature. It is an offence for both parties if they are related

If a male therefore had penetrative sex with two sisters but who were not related to the male nothing illegal has taken place. If the two sisters 'interact' once again nothing illegal has occurred.