The experiences of people who sell or exchange sex and their interaction with support services: lived experience engagement

This research informs our commitment to develop a model for Scotland which effectively tackles and challenges men’s demand for prostitution. It seeks to map service provision in Scotland, and gathers lived experience input on service experiences.


The definitions used in this research are drawn from existing definitions used in the Sexual Offences Act 2003 (

  • Prostitution: 'prostitute' means a person who, on at least one occasion and whether or not compelled to do so, offers or provides sexual services to another person in return for payment or a promise of payment to [another person] or a third person; and "prostitution" is to be interpreted accordingly.
  • Payment: means any financial advantage, including the discharge of an obligation to pay or the provision of goods or services (including sexual services) gratuitously or at a discount. An example of this may be paying rent on an individual's behalf, a parking ticket or fine, providing drugs or luxury items or services at a discount.
  • Sexual services are defined as in-person exchanges of physical sexual contact.
  • People who sell or exchange sex or individuals involved or engaged in prostitution: This is the preferred language used in this research to include any adult who has ever been involved in prostitution, whether or not they are currently still involved. Variations which may be used when referring to data disaggregated by sex are women who sell or exchange sex, and men who sell or exchange sex.
  • Specialist Services: a service which only provides support for people who sell or exchange sex. This may be a standalone organisation or a specialist team or individual worker within a larger organisation which also provides broader services.
  • Mainstream Services: any other services which people who sell or exchange sex may engage with or seek support from, which also provides services to people who do not sell or exchange sex. Previous research indicates this is likely to include but is not limited to:
    • Addictions
    • Domestic Abuse
    • Foodbanks
    • Faith-based and community organisations
    • Housing
    • Health Visitors
    • NHS: GP's, sexual health, maternity, accident and emergency services
    • Criminal Justice
    • Social Work
    • Children and Families
    • Police Scotland



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