Street Sex Workers

SWOP Sussex is a sex workers’ outreach project for women who live or work in the sex industry in Sussex. Our service is trans inclusive.

The law & your rights.

It is not illegal for a consenting adult (age 18 or over) to sell sex in the UK, but law around the sex industry is complicated.

At SWOP we are happy to find out any information or support you if you have any concerns about the law or your rights.

Release have fantastic legal information on their website.

They also have a helpline (telephone and email). You can speak to a solicitor for advice about your rights on Sex Work and the Law and also any questions about Drugs and the Law.

You will not be obliged to give your personal details if you contact SWOP or Release.

What is illegal for street workers?

This is just a brief summary of some main points.

It is an offence to “persistently loiter or solicit in the street or a public place for purposes of prostitution” The penalty is a fine or a Community Support Order.

Community Protection Notice (CPN) (This replaced ASBOs)
If the police or council may issue a CPN if they complaints from the public or local businesses about soliciting, or any other activity that is seen as a problem or nuisance.

Controlling Prostitution for Gain (“pimping”)

  • It is illegal for another person to control what customers you see, the prices you charge or any aspect of your work in for their own gain.
  • It is also illegal or if a third party is benefitting from this.

Self Defence

  • You can use reasonable force to defend yourself against an attack.
  • You do not have to have already been attacked before you defend yourself, but you must act in response to an immediate threat.
  • Remember that carrying a weapon is an offence.

If someone tells you they are a police officer, always ask to see ID.

Remember, if you get arrested:

  • You have the right to be treated fairly and with respect by the police.
  • You do not have to say anything to the police BUT if you are later charged with a crime and you have not mentioned, when questioned, something that you later rely on in court, then this may be taken into account when deciding if you are guilty.
  • DO NOT discuss your case with the police until you have consulted with a solicitor.
  • Inform the custody officer if you feel unwell or are on prescribed medication.

Other useful contacts.

SWARM is a community of sex workers advocating for better working conditions and resisting violence.

ECP are an organisation of sex-workers campaigning for sex workers’ rights and safety.