Sex worker safety 

Programme Challenger are committed to working with partners to safeguard sex workers, prevent crime committed against them and minimise harm. 

Sex workers are often targeted by dangerous individuals who target lone sex workers and prey on their vulnerability in not wanting to pursue or even record a crime against them. 

This page is to inform those that work in the sex industry about what to do if they are a victim of crime, and also what support is available, locally or online, if they are reluctant to report these incidents to the police. 

It will also provide links about local and national services that can offer support to sex workers. 

Safety tips

  • Do some pre checks before taking a booking.  Sign up to National Ugly Mugs (NUM)  to use their safety tools and receive warnings about potentially dangerous individuals
  • Use sex worker forums and other email/number checking systems as part of your pre-booking screening routine
  • Always, if possible have a check in buddy
  • If things go wrong and/or you feel like something isn't right, call or alert your check in buddy or your driver (if you have one) using a pre-arranged system
  • If your client becomes aggressive, violent or is attacking you in anyway, try to get away from them. Don't worry about causing a scene- your safety comes first. 
  • Have and use a personal safety alarm or panic button
  • Wherever you work, if in trouble try to attract the attention of others- if you shout a specific instruction like 'call the police' you are more likely to attract someone
  • After the incident, warn others: report to National Ugly Mugs to get a warning out and get in touch with their case workers if you need any support. 
  • Always have a fully charged mobile phone and always trust your instinct
  • Be aware of your surroundings, make a plan for a quick exit if necessary
  • Set your boundary's on your profile


Privacy Tips

  • Have a fake name and stick to it. Apart from having practical benefits it serves as a great way to distance yourself from work when you need to
  • Always have a separate work phone
  • Have separate work and personal emails- this is the best way to protect your privacy
  • Always use separate photo images from your personal life and personal profiles on social media and remember that images, numbers, social accounts and names can be searched by anyone on the web. So again fake names, separate numbers are always best.  Think about if you want your face in your advertising images. 
  • Have separate social media accounts, never merge them and remember which is which: work and personal and never the twain shall meet. 
  • Know as much as you can about any app/website/advertising platform that you use, how they work and their data protection policies. 
  • Look at ways to accept payment and which options might compromise your privacy.
  • Do not give the address of where you work from or the local area in your advertising
  • Try not to include pictures of your premises in your advertising

This video showcases the stories of six current and former sex workers to highlight the working conditions of sex workers in the 21st century.

This film was produced as part of the Beyond the Gaze research project. Beyond the Gaze is the largest study to date of UK online sex work, examining the working conditions, safety and policing of the industry by researchers from the Universities of Leicester and Strathclyde


National Ugly Mugs (NUM) 

National Ugly Mugs is a pioneering National organisation which provides greater access to justice and protection for sex workers who are often targeted by dangerous individuals but are frequently reluctant to report these incidents to the police. These offenders are often serial sexual predators who pose a huge risk to the public as a whole. 

Their aims

To improve the safety of sex workers, to prevent crime and to bring to justice more offenders who target sex workers. Please visit their website for more information and how to join. 

Beyond The Gaze

Beyond the Gaze was a three year study of the safety and working conditions of online sex work in the UK and is the largest study to date of this sector. By online we mean those that use digital technology to run their business and specifically to safety screen and protect their privacy. Whilst their information is primarily for those who offer face to face services, the safety and privacy tips can be helpful to other sectors of the industry. They also have a section on camming.  

MASH

MASH are a charity that offer free and confidential support for women who are sex working in Manchester.  They have a drop in centre, a sexual health clinic, can help with counselling and any issues with addiction to drugs. They run a MASH van, this is an outreach service that sex workers can utilise without having to call into the main building. They offer condoms, a needle exchange, chat with a counsellor or just a hot cup of tea. 

The Men's Room

The Men's Room is an arts and social charity that works creatively to empower men aged 18-30. We support male sex workers, homeless men and men involved in the criminal justice system. We offer them opportunities to get involved in high quality arts projects whilst accessing one to one support for challenges they face in their everyday lives.
Our work engages young men experiencing multiple disadvantage, including homeless men, sex workers, men with experience of sexual exploitation, offenders, and men struggling with mental health problems and substance misuse. We work with artists on a diverse range of projects throughout the year, whilst also offering outreach services and personalised support to our service users.


If you are a victim of crime

Contact us in confidence


In a non emergency you can contact Greater Manchester Police in confidence on 101


In an emergency


If you, or someone you know is in danger, always dial 999


For further advice about reporting crime to the police visit The National Ugly Mugs website police and courts page 

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Programme Challenger please email:
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In an emergency, where there is a
threat to life or a crime in progress,
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