Keeping a brothel used for prostitution

Sexual Offences Act 1956, s.33A
Effective from: 01 April 2014

Triable either way Maximum: 7 years’ custody

Offence range: Community order – 6 years’ custody

The terms “prostitute” and “prostitution” are used in this guideline in accordance with the statutory language contained in the Sexual Offences Act 2003.

User guide for this offence

Step 1 – Determining the offence category

The court should determine which categories of harm and culpability the offence falls into by reference only to the tables below.


Category 1

  • Under 18 year olds working in brothel
  • Abduction/detention
  • Violence or threats of violence
  • Sustained and systematic psychological abuse
  • Those working in brothel forced or coerced to participate in unsafe/degrading sexual activity
  • Those working in brothel forced or coerced into seeing many “customers”
  • Those working in brothel forced/coerced/deceived into prostitution
  • Established evidence of community impact

Category 2

  • Factor(s) in category 1 not present



  • Keeping brothel on significant commercial basis
  • Involvement in keeping a number of brothels
  • Expectation of significant financial or other gain
  • Abuse of trust
  • Exploitation of those known to be trafficked
  • Significant involvement in limiting freedom of those working in brothel
  • Grooming of a person to work in the brothel including through cultivation of a dependency on drugs or alcohol


  • Keeping/managing premises
  • Close involvement with those working in brothel, for example control of finances, choice of clients, working conditions, etc (where offender’s involvement is not as a result of coercion)


  • Performs limited function under direction
  • Close involvement but engaged by coercion/intimidation/exploitation