Skip to main content
Kent Academic Repository

Prostitution policy, morality and the precautionary principle

Sanders, Teela, Hubbard, Philip, Scoular, Jane (2016) Prostitution policy, morality and the precautionary principle. Drugs and Alcohol Today, 16 (3). pp. 194-202. ISSN 1745-9265. (doi:10.1108/DAT-03-2016-0009) (KAR id:55630)

PDF (As formatted and sent by Emerald Insight) Author's Accepted Manuscript
Language: English
Download this file
[thumbnail of As formatted and sent by Emerald Insight]
Request a format suitable for use with assistive technology e.g. a screenreader
Official URL:


Purpose: This paper explores the contemporary regulation of sex work in England and Wales, placing this in the context of debates concerning morality, evidence and the efficacy of policy.

Design/methodology/approach: This brief paper is based on reflections on the authors’ research and contribution to policy debates over the last two decades.

Findings: This paper presents prostitution policy as morality policy and suggests that this discounts evidence in favour of a precautionary approach based on the idea that prostitution is sinful and hence must be inherently harmful.

Practical implications: The paper makes a strong case for evidence-based policy in an area where morality tends to promote a more partial and selective reading of evidence.

Social implications: It is argued that the dominance of a particular policy approach to sex work perpetuates stigma for those in the sex industries and exacerbates risks of harm.

Originality/value: The drift towards the criminalization of sex work in England and Wales mirrors that in many other nations, but this is not informed by academic evidence. This paper argues for a more balanced assessment of evidence and the consideration of data rather than a privileging of particular moral standpoints.

Item Type: Article
DOI/Identification number: 10.1108/DAT-03-2016-0009
Uncontrolled keywords: prostitution, morality, sex work, regulation, harm-reduction
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HM Sociology
Divisions: Divisions > Division for the Study of Law, Society and Social Justice > School of Social Policy, Sociology and Social Research
Depositing User: Phil Hubbard
Date Deposited: 20 May 2016 10:14 UTC
Last Modified: 09 Jan 2024 12:35 UTC
Resource URI: (The current URI for this page, for reference purposes)

University of Kent Author Information

Hubbard, Philip.

Creator's ORCID:
CReDIT Contributor Roles:
  • Depositors only (login required):

Total unique views for this document in KAR since July 2020. For more details click on the image.