Professor Teela Sanders

Professor Teela SandersProfessor in Criminology

Contact Details

Personal details

After graduating with a DPhil in Sociology from the University of Oxford in 2003, I took up a post at the University of Leeds, crafting out a career in research-led teaching.

I moved to the University of Leicester in 2016 to take up the role of Professor of Criminology. My career has been predicated on the importance of involving participants and practitioners in research activities, using participatory action research methods.


  • Understanding Criminological Research (Undergraduate)

Administrative responsibilities

  • Campus Based Year 2 Personal Tutor
  • Deputy Director of Research


Sitting on the borders of criminology and sociology, I explore the inter-relationship between human sexuality and socio-legal structures. My focus has been on the intersections between gender, regulation and the state, focusing on the UK sex industry.

I regularly advise governments, the police, higher education institutes, NGOs and the broader third sector, forging collaborative relationships with partners to move forward evidence based policy and practice.

Developing Good Practice within Higher Education: Student Sex Work, Safety and Inclusion

Funded by the ESRC Impact Acceleration Account, this project will run from January 2021 until end of 2023. Teela Sanders supported by researchers Gaynor Trueman and Jessica Hyer, will carry out a programme of outreach to Higher Education institutions, as well as relevant HE organisations with responsibility for welfare, student experience and inclusion. This page introduces you to our mission, existing resources around student sex work, toolkit for staff and students that have been created and further information about this programme.

Beyond the Gaze: Working Practices, Safety and Regulation of Internet Based Sex Workers in the UK - 2015-2018

Dr Rosie Campbell and I have been funded by the ESRC to investigate how digital technologies have affected the sex industry. So far, the research team has conducted a survey with sex workers and customers, and interviews with sex workers, police officers across forces in England, Wales, Northern Ireland and Scotland, and key players in web design/marketing for platforms.

This study will lead to the development of an outreach info service for sex workers via the internet and a Netreach toolkit for good practice guidance on models of internet outreach and work with internet based sex workers.

Please click on the links below for more information:-

Briefing Summary

Briefing for Police

Briefing for Practitioners

Briefing on Customers

Briefing on Mapping the Online Sex Industry

The Beyond the Gaze short film

Reviewing the Occupational Risks of Sex Workers in Comparison to Other ‘Risky’ Professions: Mental ill-health, Violence and Murder - 2017

Bringing together social scientists, epidemiologists, sex worker rights activists and health practitioners, this Wellcome Trust Seed Award project aims to understand how occupational health and safety differs between sex workers and other professions which are established as ‘risky’ because of the elevated prevalence of violence in the workplace and poor mental health.

Through literature reviews and evidence scoping, we will examine and synthesise data on the occupational risks of sex workers (female, male and transgender) across street and indoor workplaces in comparison to ‘risky’ professions as categorised by the occupational literature, focusing on three key areas: mental ill-health, violence and murder.

Briefing Papers

Working Conditions of Internet Based Sex Workers - 2015

This was a Wellcome Trust-funded pilot project exploring the working conditions and job satisfaction of Internet-based sex workers. Working with our partners the National Ugly Mugs the aims of the project was to build on the little knowledge that exists about who internet-based sex workers are, how they work and their daily working lives, as well as their intersections with crime, the police and stigma.

Alongside research assistants, Laura Connelly and Laura Jarvis-King, data was collected from a survey with 240 respondents, which is a significantly large number in comparison to previous surveys of this kind on sex work. From this, we have a whole range of data that we did not have a year ago, from which we can start to make sense of this hidden and stigmatised population.


I am happy to accept applications to supervise PhDs on the following topics:

  • Crime and gender
  • Regulation and the sex industry
  • Gender/crime policy & practice
  • Women in the cjs
  • Acid/weapon crime



2020 Sanders, T., Brents, B., Wakefield, C., Paying for Sex in the Digital Age. UK and US perspectives, Routledge

2017 Sanders, T., Scoular, J., Campbell, R., Pitcher, J., Cunningham, S Internet sex work: Beyond the Gaze, Palgrave, London

2016 Oxford Handbook of Sex Offences and Sex Offenders, Oxford University Press (New York)

2014 (with Malcolm Harrison) Social Policies and Social Control: New Perspectives on the Not-so-Big Society Policy Press, Bristol

2014 (with Kate Hardy) Flexible Workers: Labour, Regulation and the Political Economy of the Stripping Industry, Routledge

Journal articles

  1. Scoular, J.,Pitcher, J Sanders, T., Campbell, R and Cunningham S (2019) Beyond the Gaze and well Beyond Wolfenden: The Practices and Rationalities of Regulating and Policing Sex Work in the Digital Age Journal of Law and Society online first May 20th 2019 OPEN ACCESS
  2. Platt, L., Grenfell, P Meiksin,R., Elmes, J., Sherman, SG,., Sanders, T., Mwangi, P., Crago, AM (2018) Associations between sex work laws and sex workers’ health: A systematic review and meta-analysis of quantitative and qualitative studies PLOS Medicine OPEN ACCESS DOI: 10.1371/journal.pmed.1002680
  3. Teela Sanders, Rosie Campbell, Stewart Cunningham, Jane Pitcher, Jane Scoular, The Point of Counting: Mapping the Internet Based Sex Industry, Social Sciences. Vol. 7, No. 5, 2018, pp. 233-241
  4. Campbell, R., Sanders, T., Pitcher, J., Scoular, J and Cunningham S (2018) Risking safety and rights: online sex work, crimes and ‘blended safety repertories’. British Journal of Sociology
  5. Connelly, L., Kamerade-Hanta, D, Sanders, T (2018) Violent and non-violent crimes against sex workers: The influence of the sex market on reporting practices in the United Kingdom, Journal of Interpersonal Violence
  6. Cunningham, S., Sanders, T., Platt, L., Grenfell, P., Macioti, PG (2018) Sex Work and Occupational Homicide: Analysis of a UK Murder Database, Homicide Studies 22 (3) 321-338
  7. 2017 Cunningham, S., Sanders, T., Scoular, J., Campbell, R., Pitcher, J., Hill, K., Valentine-Chase, M., Melissa, C., Aydin, Y., Hamer, B (2017) Behind the Screen: Commercial Sex, Digital Spaces and Working Online Technology in Society 53 (47-54) GOLD OA2017 (Hubbard, Sanders, Scoular) Prostitution Policy and the Precautionary Principle Drugs and Alcohol Today 16 (3)
  8. 2017 (with Kate Brown) Pragmatic, progressive, problematic: Addressing vulnerability through a local street sex work partnership initiative special issue of Social Policy and Society 16 (3) 429-441
  9. 2016 (with Connelly, Jarvis-King) On Our Own Terms: The Working Conditions of Internet Based Escorts in the UK for special issue Sociological Research Online 21 (4) 15
  10. 2016 (with Cruz and Hardy) Fake Self-Employment, Autonomy, and Regulating for Decent Work: Improving Working Conditions in the UK Stripping Industry British Journal of Industrial Relations
  11. 2016 Inevitably violent? Dynamics of space, governance and stigma in understanding violence against sex workers Special Issue ‘Problematizing Prostitution: Critical Research and Scholarship’ in Special Issue: Problematizing Prostitution: Critical Research and Scholarship Studies in Law, Politics, and Society, Volume 71, pp 93-114
  12. 2015 Regulating Strip-Based Entertainment: Sexual Entertainment Venue Policy and the Ex/Inclusion of Dancers’ Perspectives and Needs, Social Policy and Society 14,1, pp 83-92
  13. Hardy, K and Sanders, T (2015) The political economy of lap dancing: intersectional precarities and women’s work in the stripping industry Work, Employment and Society 29 (1) pp 119-136
  14. Sanders, T and Campbell, R (2014) Criminalisation, Protection and Rights: Global Tensions in the Governance of Commercial Sex Criminology and Criminal Justice Nov 14 535-548


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