Centre for Criminological Research Seminar Series, 4th November 2015

‘The Arguments for the Decriminalisation of Sex Work: Violence, Hate Crime and Rights’

Teela Sanders & Rosie Campbell, University of Sheffield, Centre for Criminological Research Seminar Series.


In August 2015 Amnesty International adopted the policy position of decriminalisation for sex work after considerable consultation. Currently MSP Jean Urquhart has proposed a Bill to decriminalise prostitution in Scotland. With this as the political and policy backdrop, this paper reports on an analysis of 961 crime reports (mainly violence) to the pioneering and innovative National Ugly Mug scheme from July 2012 to July 2014 by sex workers and projects across the UK.

We explore specifically the hate crime reports and discuss how the ‘hate crime approach’ to sex work has been developed through what has come to be known as the Merseyside model. Finally, we use this evidence about levels of violence, ‘perceived vulnerability’ and the hate crime model to argue for a move towards decriminalisation of sex work in the UK to put an end to criminalisation and the precarious position of sex workers.