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Professor in Criminology, University of Leicester

Sitting on the borders of criminology and sociology, I explore the inter-relationship between human sexuality and socio-legal structures. My focus has been on the intersections between gender, regulation and the state, focusing on the UK sex industry.

I regularly advise governments on policy and guidance, works closely with policing agencies and I have a strong collaborative relationship with the National Ugly Mugs project

Beyond the Gaze: Working Practices, Safety and Regulation of Internet Based Sex Workers in the UK - 2015-2018

Dr Rosie Campbell and I have been funded by the ESRC to investigate how digital technologies have affected the sex industry. So far, the research team has conducted a survey with sex workers and customers, and interviews with sex workers, police officers across forces in England, Wales, Northern Ireland and Scotland, and key players in web design/marketing for platforms.

This study will lead to the development of an outreach info service for sex workers via the internet and a Netreach toolkit for good practice guidance on models of internet outreach and work with internet based sex workers.

Reviewing the Occupational Risks of Sex Workers in Comparison to Other ‘Risky’ Professions: Mental ill-health, Violence and Murder - 2017

Bringing together social scientists, epidemiologists, sex worker rights activists and health practitioners, this Wellcome Trust Seed Award project aims to understand how occupational health and safety differs between sex workers and other professions which are established as ‘risky’ because of the elevated prevalence of violence in the workplace and poor mental health.

Through literature reviews and evidence scoping, we will examine and synthesise data on the occupational risks of sex workers (female, male and transgender) across street and indoor workplaces in comparison to ‘risky’ professions as categorised by the occupational literature, focusing on three key areas: mental ill-health, violence and murder.

Briefing Papers

Sex work and Homicide
The Use of Sex Worker Homicide Statistics in Campaigning
Sex Work and Mental Health
Working Conditions of Internet Based Sex Workers - 2015

This was a Wellcome Trust-funded pilot project exploring the working conditions and job satisfaction of Internet-based sex workers. Working with our partners the National Ugly Mugs the aims of the project was to build on the little knowledge that exists about who internet-based sex workers are, how they work and their daily working lives, as well as their intersections with crime, the police and stigma.

Alongside research assistants, Laura Connelly and Laura Jarvis-King, data was collected from a survey with 240 respondents, which is a significantly large number in comparison to previous surveys of this kind on sex work. From this, we have a whole range of data that we did not have a year ago, from which we can start to make sense of this hidden and stigmatised population.


  • –present
    Professor in Criminology, University of Leicester