Sex Workers

Sex Workers

Sex work is a term used to describe a wide range of activities relating to the exchange of money (or its equivalent) for the provision of a sexual service. Direct sex work refers to services, such as indoor and outdoor prostitution as well as escort services. 

According to the charity National Ugly Mugs 'Safety within the industry is an issue compared to other sectors: 180 sex workers were murdered in the UK between 1990 and 2016. 110 of these 180 homicides were directly work related; the sex worker was killed either by a client, in a sex working workplace or last seen alive in a known street sex work area. Based on this data from 1991 to 2000, working as a sex worker in the UK carried the absolute greatest risk of occupational homicide for women.

'National Policing Sex Work and Prostitution Guidance' provides 5 guiding statements for police officers:

1. “The sex industry is complex and often stigmatised. It is often hidden from the wider public. We recognise this environment is conducive to the abuse or exploitation of those selling sex.”
2. “Policing starts from a position that seeks to address vulnerability and exploitation. We will engage with those involved in order to build mutual trust and confidence and encourage the sharing of information to improve safety.”
3. “The police should use engagement and intelligence to develop a better understanding of the typologies and extent of prostitution. We will work with partners to develop an approach that tackles the issues associated with sex work and prostitution by engaging a wide group of
4. “The role of policing is not to make moral judgements. The police focus will be on reducing vulnerability and criminality. We will seek to maximise safety and increase trust and confidence. This will encourage those in the sex industry to report crimes and abuse. This approach will shift the focus onto safeguarding those being harmed in the sex industry.”
5. “An evidence-based ‘what works’ approach will be used to enhance awareness of officers and partners dealing with this complex environment. It will ensure the focus is on vulnerability and safety and a consistent approach across the country.”

Very Brief Intervention


Initial questions:

Do you need any help or support?  

Are you worried about your safety? Have you got a safe place to go to?

Are there any individuals you are afraid of or worried about?

Essential tips officers can share with sex workers for staying safe while working.

  • Sign up to National Ugly Mugs (NUM) to receive warnings about potentially dangerous individuals and situations.
  • Use a number or email checker to screen customers before agreeing to see them – NUM have these.
  • Note the client’s mobile phone number in case you need to report a crime at a later date – don’t take bookings from withheld numbers.
  • Be clear about the services that you are willing to provide and the cost from the beginning. Use your online profile as a place to be clear about these and always speak to the client yourself.
  • Network with other sex workers through online forums for sex workers where warnings about individuals targeting sex workers are shared.
  • Always agree business and take money first.
  • Have a plan ready in case something goes wrong.
  • Know the escape routes to a safe place within the building.
  • Always carry a personal safety alarm.
  • Never leave a key in the lock, as you could be locked in.
  • If you can, let someone know where you are going and when you intend to be back.
  • Try to avoid using drugs or alcohol when working. If you do then try to use an amount that keeps you aware and stable.
  • If you are offered refreshments by a client, only accept unopened drinks.
  • Carry a fully charged phone with emergency numbers on speed dial.
  • Always trust your instincts and be willing to say no.
  • Always try to take in as much information about a client as possible.
  • Don’t carry a weapon as this can be used against you.


Once you have established the particular circumstances and needs of the individual what can you do to help?

Please click on regional police force links at the bottom of the page for guidance and information about how you may assist and support sex workers locally.

Details of National support services for Sex workers can be found under the 'Act' tab.



National Support Services for Sex Workers

National Ugly Mugs (NUM) is a national charity with a mission to ‘end violence against sex workers.’ NUM provides a mechanism for sex industry workers to report crimes they experience and share this information within their communities to warn others to potentially dangerous individuals and situations. 

The service have a case work team that supports sex workers to further access criminal justice remedies and other services.

Tel: 0161 629 9861 (9am-5pm) Monday to Friday.



Sex workers can report information anonymously about crimes committed against themselves  or other sex workers to this number. Tel: 0800 555 111 (24hr a day, 7 days a week).

SAAFE escort forum

A website and forum full of information to help escorts, particularly those new to the industry.

Suzy Lamplugh Trust

Raises awareness about personal safety and stalking and provides safety resources including personal safety alarms. Tel: 020 7091 0014 | 

Suzy Lamplugh National Stalking Helpline - Tel: 0808 802 0300 (Open 09.30-4.00pm) weekdays)

Sexual Health Information Line

24-hour free sexual health information line Tel: 0300 123 7123| Can provide information about your nearest sexual health/GUM clinic if you want screening for sexually transmitted infection, post-exposure prophylaxis or sexual health information.

Local Support and Contact Details