Leeds MP says decision to remove red light zone ‘represents a step forward’ Yorkshire News

A map of the focus area managed in Holbeck

Leeds City Council established the Managed Approach in Holbeck with West Yorkshire Police in 2014, in an attempt to reduce the prevalence of street sex work and make vulnerable women working in the industry feel more secure and access support for.

The plan, which has been dubbed Britain’s first legal red light zone, was halted in March 2020 due to the Covid-19 pandemic and earlier this week the council announced it would be suspended, due to a significant drop in the number of sex workers in the area.

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The decision was welcomed by Holbeck residents who have spent years campaigning against the Managed Approach, claiming it has led to a spike in crime and attracted men looking to buy sex.

Holbeck residents protesting the Managed Approach (photo taken before the Covid-19 pandemic)

The council said it will continue to run other programs that support women, but Basis Yorkshire, the charity that works with sex workers in the area, said it is disappointing to see this “pioneering and compassionate approach” scrapped.

Benn, the Labor MP representing Leeds Central, said: “I welcome the news that the current Managed Approach will formally come to an end.

“It is a decision that is based on the opinions of local residents and the Independent Review, and recognizes that the scheme has not worked in its previous form since the start of the pandemic.

“The goal has always been to reduce the impact of sex work on local residents. Therefore, eliminating the allowed hours and defined area, cracking down on men’s requests, and making use of public space protection orders reflects what many have been asking for and will receive wide support.

“It is also good to see that dedicated police support, use of CCTV, cleaning arrangements and help for women to leave street sex work will continue.

“As everyone knows, there has never been a simple solution to this problem, but this announcement represents a step forward.”

The council said sidewalk crawlers looking to buy sex would be targeted and public space protection orders could be introduced to give police officers the power to impose fines on the spot for antisocial behavior.

Speaking earlier this week, Assistant Principal Debra Coupar said: “No solicitation offenses will be allowed at any time in the area.

“We do not want any individual looking to buy sex on city streets to be encouraged in any way to return to Holbeck or any area of ​​Leeds.”

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This notice was published: 2021-06-16 18:10:17

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