The Law

The Law - Indoors

The law regarding sex work in indoor establishments, whether licensed or unlicensed saunas or flats, is governed by the Criminal Law (Consolidation) (Scotland) Act 1995. The most important thing to remember is that it is not illegal to work as a sex worker in Scotland – but many other aspects of indoor sex work are illegal, including running a brothel or assisting in the running of a brothel. 

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The Law - Outdoors

The law regarding sex work outdoors (street prostitution) in Scotland is governed by the Civic Government (Scotland) Act 1982 and the Prostitution (Public Places) (Scotland) Act 2007. As with any form of sex work, selling sexual services for money is not illegal, but “associated activities” - soliciting, kerb-crawling, brothel keeping - are.

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Legally, you must pay Income Tax, National Insurance and, if you earn enough, VAT. It may seem like it’s easy enough to wriggle out of, since the vast majority of saunas and establishments treat you as self- employed (so you’re not on a Pay As You Earn system, with NI and Tax automatically deducted from a salary), but the tax man has come knocking at a lot of Edinburgh
saunas and flats.

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Need a lawyer?


Mark Thorley and Jim Stephenson of Thorley Stephenson are happy to act for sex workers in Scotland on family, child or criminal cases. Mark Thorley was a long-serving member of the SCOT-PEP Board.

They are an Edinburgh-based firm, so if you are dependent on legal aid and live or are being charged outside of the central belt, it may not be viable for them to represent you. In these circumstances, they will be able to put you in touch with "sex worker friendly" solicitors in your area.


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Know Your Rights: cards for indoor sex workers launched.

This is SCOT-PEP's 'know your rights' card for indoor sex workers, created in response to Operation Lingle as well as other, on-going punitive policing approaches. 

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