Private dating agencies
However, under the Policing and Crime Act 2009 it is a criminal offence to pay for services of a prostitute who is controlled for gain if any third party uses force, threat (whether or not relating to violence) or any other form of coercion.
In 2015 the HMRC set up a dedicated “adult entertainment task force” to collect unpaid income tax from, among others, online escort agencies.
Generally, the escort is also expected to call the agency upon arrival at the location and upon leaving, to ensure the safety of the escort.
The arm's-length relationship between the escort and the escort agency is designed to protect the escort agency (to some degree) from prosecution for breaking laws against prostitution.
This has been criticized as hypocrisy, especially where governments license and tax the escort agencies.
Some agencies may specifically deal in a certain type of escort.
There are male-for-male, female-for-male, and female-for-female escort agencies, as well as a few male-for-female agencies. It is very common for escorts to enter the business through referrals from friends who have been in the business.
Escort prostitution is one of the forms that the sex trade takes in the United Kingdom, along with prostitution practiced in massage parlors, saunas, private flats (such as the Soho walk-ups) and street prostitution.
Working as an outcall escort is not an offence, and neither is working as a prostitute in private.