Ian Cook (Northumbria University) is currently working on two research projects that explore the regulation of prostitution and the ways in which this is informed by the wider circulation of ideas about how prostitution (and kerb crawling in particular) should be ‘managed’. See below for more details on these projects.


Project One: John Schools and Kerb Crawling

The empirical focus in the present day is on the transnational growth of John Schools. Since emerging in North America in the 1980s, they have subsequently opened in South Korea and the United Kingdom. As this BBC clip of the John School in Brooklyn, New York City shows, these programmes are unique in that they teach clients the negative consequences of buying sex. The clip also reflected the wider transnational interest in John Schools, something that forms a central plank of this research. 

This on-going research project concentrates on the relatively recent emergence of John Schools in the UK. In doing so, it focuses on:

  • the pedagogical strategies of John Schools;
  • the wider political contexts in which John Schools have emerged;
  • the ways in which the ideas around the programmes have moved between places and the mutations involved in the movement;
  • the methods through which officials have learnt about programmes elsewhere;
  • and their relationship with the media.

Project outputs and downloads

Journal Articles

Cook, I. R. (2015) Making links between sex work, gender and victimisation: The politics and pedagogies of John Schools. Gender, Place and Culture 22 (6): 817-832. [free version here, official version here]

Cook, I. R. (2015) A vengeful education? Urban revanchism, sex work and the penal politics of John Schools. Geografiska Annaler: Series B, Human Geography 97 (1): 17-30. [free version here, official version here]

Laing, M. and Cook, I. R. (2014) Governing sex work in the city. Geography Compass 8 (8): 505-515. [free version here, official version here]

Blog Entries

Cook, I. R. (2013) Influences from elsewhere in UK prostitution policy. The Northumbria Centre for Offenders and Offending Blog.

Cook, I. R. (2012) Re-educating the kerb-crawler. The Northumbria Centre for Offenders and Offending Blog.


Cook, I. R. (2012) Sex, education and the city: Teaching ‘appropriate’ urban sexualities at Kerb Crawling Education Programmes. Centre for Offenders and Offending Inaugural Symposium, Northumbria University, September 2012. [free pdf]

Project Two: The Wolfenden Report and the Regulation of Prostitution in the 1950s

The focus for the 1950s will be different, focusing on the ways in which national policymakers in the United Kingdom drew on the experiences of elsewhere (notably the United States and Scandinavia) in formulating national prostitution policy and the construction of the infamous Wolfenden Report (1957) which significantly shaped the ways in which prostitution has been understood and regulated in the UK. Once again, the focus of this research is on the transnational influences, the policy tourism involved, and the territorial politics of developing and implementing a new national framework for policing prostitution. 

Contact Ian Cook (ian.cook [at] northumbria.ac.uk) for more details on the project.