The impact of laws and policing on sex workers’ lives

ELP_colour2 Team

We are a group of researchers that includes academics, current and former sex workers, members of sex worker organisations and sex work projects. The project is a collaboration between the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine (LSHTM), the University of York, the Homerton Hospital, Imperial College and the University of Bristol. It is led by Lucy Platt and co-led by Pippa Grenfell, at LSHTM. Our key project partners are Open Doors  and National Ugly Mugs .

Our project advisory group  includes a wide range of community stakeholders (e.g. sex workers, activists, service providers, policy makers and residents).

A full list of our collaborators can be found on the collaborators  page.

This project is a collaboration between the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine (LSHTM), the University of York, the Homerton Hospital, Imperial College and the University of Bristol. It is led by Lucy Platt and co-led by Pippa Grenfell, at LSHTM.

Lucy Platt is an Associate Professor in Public Health Epidemiology at The London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine. She has been working with sex workers in research for over 15 years. Her work focuses on understanding how social and health policies affect the health and safety of sex workers and people who inject drugs both in the UK and internationally. She will oversee the management of the project, lead the cohort study (component B) and the overall mixed-method study design.

pippa_grenfellPippa Grenfell is an Assistant Professor and sociologist at LSHTM who has been carrying out qualitative research with sex workers for 10 years. Her research focuses on the social, economic, political and legal contexts that affect sex workers’ safety, health and rights. She uses participatory approaches – that is, working in collaboration with sex workers to design and carry out research that addresses sex workers’ concerns and that can support advocacy for evidence-based laws, policies and practices. She is leading the qualitative study (A) and the participatory research approach, and co-leading the management of the project together with Lucy.

Maggie_ONeilMaggie O’Neil is a Professor in Sociology (Criminology) at the University of York who co-founded the sex work research hub. She is an applied criminologist with over 25 years of experience of research with sex workers and developing participatory research methods. Her research has been instrumental in advancing research and policy around the commercial sex industry and migration. Maggie will advise on the qualitative study (component A) and the wider participatory research approach.

Georgina-PerryGeorgina Perry, has been managing health and support services for sex workers for 16 years – most recently as acting-CEO of National Ugly Mugs (NUM) and before that managed Open Doors in East London.  She is currently studying for a Masters Degree in Public Health at LSHTM. Georgina will be advising us on how we design and carry out the research, including providing opportunities for sex workers to find out about the project and give us feedback.

Peter_vickermanPeter Vickerman is Professor in Infectious Disease Modelling at the University of Bristol with extensive expertise in computer modelling of sexually transmitted infections, HIV and HCV. His research focuses on evaluating different approaches to reduce the spread of HIV and Hepatitis C among vulnerable populations such as people who inject drugs, men who have sex with men and sex workers. He will lead the computer modelling analysis of the project (component C).

Sarah Creighton is a GUM (genitourinary medicine) consultant at Homerton Hospital, with extensive experience of providing healthcare services to sex workers in East London. Sarah will advise on all clinical aspects of the project and will provide testing and treatment to survey participants (component B).

Marie_claude_boilyMarie-Claude (MC) Boily is Professor in Mathematical Epidemiology at Imperial College London. MC’s research focuses on HIV and other STIs. Among others her projects include developing and using computer models to understand how large-scale public health interventions, such as condom promotion campaigns, can reduce HIV and sexually transmitted infections among vulnerable populations. She has pioneered model development to estimate the impact of criminalisation, violence, and other structural on HIV infection among sex workers. She will be advising on the computer modelling analysis (component C).

james_hargreavesJames Hargreaves is Professor in Epidemiology and Evaluation at LSHTM, whose research interests include how social interventions and policies influence infectious diseases and social inequalities.  James will advise on the overall implementation of the project.


Aisling Gallagher is an activist with Sex Worker Advocacy & Resistance Movement (previously SWOU) and has previously conducted research with Dr Kate Hardy on how austerity has impacted disabled sex workers. Aisling got involved in sex workers’ rights activism when working for the National Union of Students in Northern Ireland several years ago. Aisling also works in the charity sector and has a master’s degree in Gender, Media & Culture from Goldsmiths College. Aisling is a co-researcher and will assist  Pippa with component A.

Janet EasthamJanet Eastham is an activist with the Sex Worker Advocacy and Resistance Movement (SWARM) and a freelance journalist. Last year she co-authored a BMJ editorial on decriminalising sex work in the UK, and has written articles for the Guardian on cuts to sex worker services and the Home Affairs Select Committee on Prostitution. She has a bachelors degree in English Literature and is currently on the Channel 4 Investigative Journalism Scheme. Janet is a co-researcher and will assist  Pippa with component A.

Jocelyn Elmes is a Research Fellow in epidemiology at The London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine. Her research focuses on the understanding how behavioural, social and structural factors influence health and wellbeing of sex workers and women involved in transactional sex in various countries. She will assist Lucy and Pippa with components B and D.





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