The Law - Indoors

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.

Section 7 - Procuring

This section is covers four offences, all of which carry a sentence of up to 2 years' imprisonment.  It is illegal to get a woman to have sex illegally, or become a 'common prostitute', anywhere in the world.  This could include encouraging a friend to join you in working in a brothel or as an escort in a country where selling sex is illegal.  Legally, 'common prostitute' means a street sex worker, so this offence could include telling a woman you work with that you've been moonlighting on the street to make some extra cash and that she should give it a try.  It is illegal to get a woman to leave the UK to live in or 'frequent' a brothel, anywhere in the world.  It is unclear whether 'frequenting' would be limited to working there, or if it could include regularly dropping in.  This could extend to encouraging a friend to join you working overseas in a legal, regulated brothel (for example in New Zealand or Nevada) - the offence seems to be centred on the purpose for which they leave, not the legality of what they do once they have left the UK.

It is illegal to get any women to leave her home in the UK to work in a brothel anywhere, including in the UK. This covers the same ground as the clause above, but also means that if you tell a friend in Newcastle that you've found a great place to work and she should come up, stay with you a few weeks and give it a try, you're breaking the law.  It is illegal to use threats, lies, intimidation or false pretences to get a woman to have sex illegally anywhere in the world.

Section 8 - Abduction and unlawful detention

It is illegal to keep a woman against her will in a brothel, or anywhere where she is forced to have illegal sex. Surprisingly, this only carries a sentence of up to 2 years' imprisonment.  Withholding clothing or property is specifically named as a form of detention, as is giving a woman clothes and threatening to prosecute her if she leaves while wearing them, if it is done to make her stay. It also says that no woman will be prosecuted for 'stealing' if the only way she can leave clothed is to walk out wearing clothes she was given. 

Section 9 - Permitting girl to use premises for intercourse

It is illegal for the owner, occupier or manager of premises to get, or allow, a girl under the age of 16 to have sex there. 

Section 10 - Seduction, prostitution, etc., of girl under 16

It is illegal for a person with parental responsibilities for a girl under 16 to cause or encourage her to be seduced, work as a prostitute, have unlawful sexual intercourse or be indecently assaulted.  This carries a sentance of up to 3 years.

Section 11 - Trading in prostitution and brothel-keeping

It is illegal for a man (but not a woman) to knowing live in whole or in part on money earned through prostitution. This extends to living with you or being 'habitually' in your company, if he knows what you do for a living. If you're a lesbian, you can give your girlfriend as much money as you like, as long as she doesn't 'control' you for gain - see below.  Up to 2 years' imprisonment.

It is illegal for anyone to 'exercise control, direction or influence' for gain over the movements of a prostitute for the purposes of 'aiding, abetting or controlling' her prostitution. This applies to receptionists at escort agencies who take bookings, owners who make up the rota, and anyone who tells you where to go or when to work.  Up to 2 years' imprisonment.

It is illegal to run a brothel - this covers owners, tenants, managers and anyone who acts or assists in the running of the brothel. This law is what is used to target receptionists, but could also potentially extend to someone who cleans up or does the sheets. Up to 6 months' imprisonment and a maximum fine of £2500. 

Section 12 - Allowing child to be in brothel

It is illegal to allow a child between the ages of 4 and 16, for which you have responsibility, to live in or frequent a brothel. Up to 6 months' imprisonment or a maximum fine of £500.

Entertainment Licences

In Scotland, saunas can apply for entertainment licences by the Council under the Civic Government (Scotland) Act 1982, which ensures that they comply with health and safety requirements, but theseare licences for public entertainment - it is still illegal to run a brothel. 

A plate from William Hogarth’s 18th century morality tale, A Harlot’s Progress, showing the virtuous and chaste country girl Moll being examined by Elizabeth ‘Mother’ Needham, a notorious brothel keeper who died in 1730 after being assaulted by a mob.


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