Symposium on ‘The regulation of sex work, politics and activism’

Wednesday 15th June 2016, 11am to 6:30pm at the River Room at the Strand Campus, King’s College London

Dr Prabha Kotiswaran and Eva Klambauer from King’s College London and the Sex Work Research Hub are inviting you to join us for a symposium on the regulation of sex work, sex work politics and activism. This event will be a great opportunity for the members of the sex work research hub to get together to network and plan joint initiatives.

Comparative approaches to law reform, the consequences of different regulatory approaches on sex workers’ well-being, and the legal consciousness of sex workers and the sex workers’ movements will be explored. The symposium will bring together scholars from across the UK and internationally with policy-makers and sex workers’ rights and feminist advocates to share research findings and engage in an evidence-based discussion of law reform.


The deadline for registration is the 15th of May 2016. The event is free, but please register via Eventbrite ( and email about dietary requirements before the 15th of May 2016.

Confirmed speakers include:

  • Prabha Kotiswaran, Reader in Law & Social Justice at King’s College London
  • Samantha Majic, Assistant Professor at John Jay College of Criminal Justice
  • Gregor Gall, Professor at the University of Bradford
  • Maggie O’Neill, Professor at the University of York
  • Marisa Fassi, Doctoral Researcher at the University of Milan
  • Jane Scoular, Professor at Strathclyde University
  • Phil Hubbard, Professor at the University of Kent
  • Teela Sanders, Professor at the University of Leeds
  • Camille Melissa, commercial photographer and sex worker
  • Georgina Perry, Manager of the NHS project Open Doors
  • Penny Crofts, Professor at the University of Technology Sydney
  • Katie Cruz, Lecturer in Law and Social Justice, University of Leeds
  • Jay Levy, Independent Researcher
  • Luca Stevenson, member of the Sex Worker Open University and ICRSE Coordinator
  • Laura Watson, English Collective of Prostitutes
  • Andrew Boff, Member of the London Assembly

Teela Sanders: Beyond Regulation & Policing?: Sex Work in the Digital Age

Sex work provides momentum for the continuing sexual revolution as commercial sex activities move to online spaces and digital technologies. As part of a broader shift in the way that love, sex and relationships are played out through cyber life, this paper offers a fresh analysis of sex work in the digital age.

Showcasing a current project Beyond the Gaze which examines the working practices of internet based sex workers, this paper looks at the how regulation and policing are trailing behind, struggling to understand, adapt and account for the move to online sex work. The paper examines how sex work is organised, shaped, and presented in online spaces, exposing where there are concerns around crimes and safety for sex workers, yet at the time strong evidence of self regulation outside state control.

Symposium on the Legal Regulation and Policing of Commercial Sex

March 3rd – 4th, 2016, Queen’s University Belfast

Teela Sanders will be presenting her paper Webcams, Fantasy Chat and Escorting: Sexual Commerce in the Digital Age at this symposium organised by the Commercial Sex Research Network Ireland (CSRNI), an interdisciplinary network for researchers critically engaged in the area of commercial sex and sex work in Ireland.


The majority of commercial sex in the Western world is either mediated or performed through the Internet and digital technologies. This paper is an exploratory discussion of the nature and characteristics of this shift, pulling out some of the broader questions around how sexual commerce has adapted and responded to the digital age. Exploring concepts such as ‘digital labour’ with empirical findings from a Wellcome Trust project with Internet Based Sex Workers, this paper will set the scene for where sociological inquiry needs to focus its attentions. Finally, the paper will flesh out a current project in situ Beyond the Gaze: Working Practice, Safety and Regulation on Internet base Sex work

About the Symposium

Funded by the Irish Research Council under the New Foundations scheme, the CSRNI is being developed in a three-way partnership between the University of Limerick, NUI Galway and the Schools’ of Law and Sociology, Social Policy and Social Work at Queen’s University, Belfast. The aims of the network are to provide a much-needed space for interdisciplinary collaboration and dissemination of research activities nationally and internationally. This event is also sponsored by the British Society of Criminology (Northern Ireland) Regional Group.

While the emphasis of the symposium is on developments that are occurring in Ireland (North and South) issues around commercial sex in other jurisdictions including Britain and Sweden / Norway will also be considered. Topics to be discussed include: the role of the digital economy in the buying and selling of sexual services; the policing of commercial sex; legislative changes and the criminalisation of demand; and feminist responses to commercial sex. The aim of the symposium is to share analyses of the prevalence and regulation of commercial sex in Ireland, and to draw upon best practice lessons from other jurisdictions. The symposium will bring together academics, NGOs and those involved in commercial sex in Ireland.

There is no fee for this conference. However, places are limited and are allocated on a first-come-first-served basis. To reserve a place please RSVP to Dr Tanya Serisier as soon as possible ( There will be no media presence at this event so sex workers are more than welcome to attend.

N8 PRP Updated National Police Prostitution Strategy and Learning Event

Monday 8th February, University of Leeds

The Leeds Social Science Institute at the University of Leeds is funding a learning event with the N8 Policing Research Partnership to launch the revised and updated Police Prostitution Strategy from the National Chief Police Council.

The event will take place on 8th February 2016 in Leeds and will focus on good practice in policing and protection initiatives with sex workers. Starting the day, ACC Nicky Holland, the lead for Prostitution at the National Crime Prevention Council will outline what is new in the approach and the overall ethos. This will be followed by good practice examples from Chief Constable Christopher  Bowen from West Yorkshire Police speaking about the innovative managed area operating in Leeds, and a presentation from London Metropolitan Police on dealing sexual assault cases. The afternoon showcases new and innovative work using net reach tools and the National Ugly Mugs will report on the new safety technologies which are currently underdeveloped.

The programme is packed with  experts and cutting edge approaches to the rights and protection of sex workers. For those interested in attending please contact Teela Sanders on

For more information, please see the N8 Policing Research Partnership website

4th Postgraduate Sex Work Conference

Tuesday 12th January 2016, 9am – 5pm in the Social Sciences Building, Room 12.21/25, University of Leeds

Dr Teela Sanders will be hosting the 4th Postgraduate Sex Work Conference as part of the Sex Work Research Hub networking activities and supported by members of the Yorkshire Academic Sex Work Consortium.

The one day conference is open to students at any stage of their doctoral studies, to share ideas and findings in a respectful and supportive environment. Delegates are welcome to learn from new and innovative research activities and engage in current debate and discussions.

More details are available on the Yorkshire Academic Sex Work Consortium website.

Register to attend the conference here…

ECP Evidence Symposium, 3rd November 2015

ECP Evidence Gathering Symposium on Decriminalisation

Violence against sex workers & issues for internet based sex workers

Dr Teela Sanders, Laura Connelly, Alex Feis-Bryce and Rosie Campbell

Two recent datasets have been collected:

  1. an analysis of 961 Ugly Mug reports from July 2012 to July 2014 and
  2. the largest UK survey (n=240) to date on internet based sex workers examining their working conditions and job satisfaction.

This paper will pull out the key information from these datasets to evidence the following:

  • levels of violence against sex workers, making comparisons between sectors
  • working histories of internet based sex workers
  • sex work histories
  • experiences of crime and safety at work
  • job satisfaction
  • sex workers opinions on how to improve safety, highlight the unanimous disregard for criminalisation as a sound policy

Whilst this data is largely based on female British based sex workers in the UK there will be reflections on the data for male sex workers and other groups. Overall we hope to showcase some of the most detailed quantitative data on violence against sex workers in the UK and the dominance of indoor / internet based sex work, to contribute to the campaign for a safer sex working environment that decriminalisation offers.


Another member of the Beyond the Gaze Team, Dr Jane Pitcher will also be presenting at the symposium. She will be presenting a paper based on her MRes and PhD research.

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.



Criminology seminar series Leeds Beckett University, 17th November 2015

Teela Sanders and Rosie Campbell speaking on the hate crime model at the Leeds Beckett Criminological Seminar Series.

Violence against sex workers is a reality well known across research and practitioner disciplines and is a constant concern regarding the vulnerability of certain groups of sex workers. With at least 153 sex workers murdered in the UK since 2000, this issue should be a priority in terms of policing interventions, investigations, intelligence gathering and preventative partnership work. Perhaps equally important, evidence currently available points to the inadequacies of the law which criminalises sex work in the UK, further creating the conditions where violence can be generated and tolerated.

This paper brings together three crucial strands of argument to set out why decriminalisation is a safer and more rights based model of regulation. First, we present an analysis of the most up-to-date information on the types and characteristics of crimes against sex workers (from reports to the National Ugly Mugs scheme). Second, we explore specifically the hate crime reports and discuss how the ‘hate crime approach’ to sex work is not an alternative to decriminalisation but fits into and wholly supports a model of decriminalisation. Finally, we use this evidence about levels of violence and the hate crime model to argue for decriminalisation of sex work in the UK to put an end to the precarious position of sex workers in society.

North East Sex Work Forum, Regional Learning Day 19th November 2015

Rosie Campbell keynote at North East Sex Work Forum, Regional Learning Day.

Flagging up new trends in sex work in the UK, this seminar will share some initial findings on internet based sex work and the remaining questions regarding working practices, safety and regulation. The event will be used to encourage practitioners who work with sex workers on the frontline to get involved in the practitioner forum and discuss how sex work in the North East can be represented in the Beyond the Gaze project.


Online Survey: Sex Work Support Project

In order to consult widely amongst sex work support projects, Beyond the Gaze with will be carrying out with NUM (UKNSWP) a survey of  sex work projects in Scotland, Wales and England. This will be carried out in Jan/Feb 2016 and aims to;

  • Identify how projects are currently reaching out to internet based sex workers and the services they are providing
  • Identifying good practice
  • Consult projects about what would help projects improve their services for internet based sex workers

Findings from the survey will inform a set of online good practice guidance for working with internet based sex work project

First meeting of the Beyond The Gaze Practitioner’s group

The first meeting of the Practitioners group took place on 17th September 2015. Practitioners from sex work project from a number of areas of the UK came together to discuss;

  • Trends and recent developments they are seeing in their localities amongst internet based sex workers and the use of digital and online technologies by sex workers
  • How they are making their services accessible to internet based sex workers
  • Challenges they face in offering services to internet sex workers and ideas for how these can be overcome