The Oldest Profession

Sex Laws Info

Controlling prostitution for gain


The Sexual Offences Act 2003 defines this as intentionally controlling any of the activities of another person relating to that person’s prostitution in any part of the world, and he does so for or in the expectation of gain for himself or a third person.

Case study:
The notion of "control" now needs to be considered in the light of a ruling by the Court of Appeal, Criminal Division. The case of Regina v Massey demonstrated that the meaning of “control” for the purposes of the offence of controlling prostitution for gain did not involve the words “compulsion”, “coercion” or “force”.
The Court of Appeal (Lord Justice Toulson, Mr Justice Gibbs and Judge Wide, QC) so held on October 19, 2007 when dismissing an appeal by Steven John Massey against his conviction on February 22, 2007 at Exeter Crown Court (Judge Cottle and a jury) of one count of living off the earnings of prostitution, contrary to section 30(1) of the Sexual Offences Act 1956, and one of controlling prostitution for gain, contrary to section 53(1) of the Sexual Offences Act 2003.


Lord Justice Toulson said that the complainant had lived with the defendant for nine years. She had given evidence that apart from income support and housing benefit they lived on her earnings from prostitution. She said that the defendant was domineering and violent towards her and she felt intimidated and compelled to do as he said.

The defendant’s evidence was that he had tried to persuade her to give up prostitution. On appeal, he argued that the judge had misdirected the jury as to the meaning of “control”, submitting that coercion was an essential part of control.

In their Lordships’ judgement, “control” included, but was not limited to conduct which forced another to carry out the relevant activity and could be exercised in a number of ways. The exploitation of a prostitute for financial gain was the broad mischief at which the section was aimed, whether or not intimidation was involved.