SOE & VOH issue joint statement on closure of Leeds manage approach for prostitution

Save Our Eyes & Voice of Holbeck joint statement on closure of Leeds MA

We are delighted to hear that LCC have decided to formally end the managed zone for prostitution and take up some of the recommendations made by the local community.

Save Our Eyes began campaigning four years ago to reduce the impact of the managed approach on the residents of Holbeck and improve services to help women exit street prostitution. Voice of Holbeck was founded in 2018 to draw together residents groups and community organisations. We believe the managed approach policy was introduced in good faith and had worthwhile aims. However, as it progressed, by 2017 it became clear that there were major failings and that the women it was intended to help could not respect either the operational area or the operational hours. This led to a huge detrimental impact on the residents living nearby; whose streets were taken over by prostitution & kerbcrawling in addition to the allocated streets.

We have been repeatedly told by MA supporters that “it wouldn’t be safe” for the zone to be closed or for kerb crawlers/ punters to be targeted. Yet the pandemic has proven that it is safe and effective to offer prostituted women exit services while clamping down on demand by targeting the men who prey on them. It’s been wonderful to hear of the improvements in women’s and residents’ lives during the pandemic. In recent weeks activity has increased again and this must be tackled.

It is essential that in moving towards a more compassionate approach services remain in place.

We are pleased to hear that some of our recommendations are being adopted, such as banning kerb crawling and punters on foot. Men who prey on vulnerable women in street prostitution are no longer welcome or tolerated in Holbeck. They are being stopped by Police and receive local interventions or may be arrested. If the Police don’t catch them, photos of men and their vehicles have been released by residents via the Save Our Eyes “Punter of the Week” feature. Residents will continue to expose predators who roam Holbeck.

The PSPO for drugs/ alcohol mentioned by LCC today was originally proposed by a Save Our Eyes committee member in early 2018 at a Voice of Holbeck meeting. This demonstrates how frustratingly slow change has been. More recently we proposed a kerb crawling PSPO in addition to this, as one has been created in London.

The “zone” has attracted punters from up to 100 miles away. One woman described how two of her “regulars” drove from Hampshire every 2 weeks to buy sex. Others travelled from Hull or York. Some come by train into Leeds then get a taxi to Holbeck or walk. The media, sex industry and punters forums have portrayed the zone as being a place where prostitution and kerb crawling are legal. So men who would normally not buy sex on the streets of their own city feel that it’s acceptable to come to Holbeck due to it being “permitted” here.
Due to the zone being a “national attraction” any exit strategy needs to be communicated nationally as well as locally, with clear consequences set out for male offenders. Leeds must become a city where traffickers, pimps and drug dealers can’t profit from the sale of vulnerable women on the streets.

We’d like to thank all those who have helped and supported us during this four year battle.
The Listening Well Report by Voice of Holbeck reflected residents’ views and experiences and showed how unsafe residents and their children had become. Yet, as a result of Voice of Holbeck showing it to councillors prior to a debate on the MA in Nov 2020, LCC have refused to talk to us for several months. We urge LCC to return to dealing with Voice of Holbeck, Save Our Eyes and other organisations who care about the local community and the women trapped in street prostitution.

Local politicians who have assisted the residents’ campaigns include Cllrs Amanda Carter, Barry Anderson, Sarah Field and Matt Robinson. We remain grateful for their support during this long and tiring campaign.

Many thanks to Jalna Hanmer, Rebecca Mott, Anna Djinn, Alan Caton, Belstaffie, Julie Bindel and others who have helped us understand the realities of prostitution, kerbcrawling and the mindset of the entitled men who drive the trade. We want to see women freed from their suffering, at the same time residents’ lives will be improved too.

We remain willing to work with LCC to improve life in Holbeck for all residents.

The Voice of Holbeck group & Save Our Eyes committee

15th June 2021
www.saveoureyes.co.uk
https://www.facebook.com/groups/saveoureyes
https://www.facebook.com/SaveOurEyesLeeds

https://www.facebook.com/groups/voiceofholbeck
https://www.facebook.com/VoiceOfHolbeck
To obtain a copy of the Listening Well report please email voiceholbeck@gmail.com

Read more:

Statement on the announced closure of the Holbeck ‘Managed Approach’ red-light zone

https://www.leeds-live.co.uk/news/leeds-news/senior-cops-message-kerb-crawlers-20823594

SOE statement on the launch of the Voice of Holbeck Listening Well Report

When we began our campaign to have the impact on residents taken into account by “Managed approach” leads 3 years ago, we hoped that listening to and understanding the impact on residents would bring change. None of the 99 Leeds City Councillors live in the affected area and none of the people in power running the MA do either.

3 ½ years after the public campaign started at Save Our Eyes and 3 years after the launch of Voice of Holbeck many residents lives remain blighted by the impact of the MA and street prostitution. Some have moved out of the area feeling that they could not put their children at risk any longer.

Today we are able to publish the Listening Well Report, in conjunction with Leeds Beckett University, a summary of the residents’ lived experiences.  The data was collected over approximately 1 year and is the only comprehensive report showing how a local community can be impacted by the encroachment of sex industry activity from a neighbouring Council designated “red light district” in the UK.

The Managed Approach has given a sense of purpose and legitimacy to the commercial sex industry. While those in power now aim to “balance” the safety of a residential neighbourhood with the “rights” they have assigned to kerb crawlers, prostituted women and pimps to operate freely nearby. Holbeck and Beeston Hill are the only areas in Leeds where punters feel they “have the right” to approach schoolgirls in the street and ask for sexual services. http://saveoureyes.co.uk/dirty-man-asked-me-for-sex-im-13/ 

Fig 3 ACPO Strategy for Policing Prostitution and Sexual Exploitation (2011)

ACPO Strategy for Policing Prostitution and Sexual Exploitation (2011)

Save Our Eyes believe a key reason for the failure of Leeds Managed Approach is that demand from men seeking to purchase women was never addressed (point 2.4.5).  This led to the MA legitimising the purchase of sex and drawing in men from a wide area who feel they have rights to buy sex. It’s clear from punters forums that they see the zone as an LCC approved open air brothel.  Many travel from other cities to visit Holbeck, even from as far away as Birmingham & Hampshire.

A small amount of discreet on street prostitution serving local men ballooned into a much greater problem that could not be contained in the small area originally allocated to it.  Demand rose and women were trafficked from other cities and across Europe to satisfy it.

Instead of the 2014 pilot project being ended as prostitution grew and took hold of the nearby community around 2016-2017, the project was made permanent.  Supposedly under constant review, the matter was not debated in Leeds Civic Hall until October 2018. At the debate, Labour councillors were not given a free vote, they had to vote as a block and support the MA as a Council policy.  However, one outcome was that an Independent Review was commissioned that took place in 2019 by Huddersfield University.  The Independent Review did not consider the impact on female residents, children or disabled people in communities affected by street prostitution. 

Through liaison with Leeds City Council and the Police we have managed to secure some improvements for the community over the last 3 1/2 years, including a dedicated telephone line, increased Police patrols and a sex litter removal service.  However, street prostitution, pimping and kerb crawling in residential areas near the Managed Approach remain a danger to residents, as this report shows.

The Listening Well report and the many reports from residents to SOE, show that one of the key concerns locally is men kerb crawling women and children in the streets or approaching them on foot to ask for sex.

Despite the MA closure since March 2020 for the pandemic, kerb crawlers continue to come to Leeds in search of prostituted women, though there are fewer of them.  The women have had some improvement in support services and drug treatment and we have heard that some have managed to exit prostitution due to the pandemic.  However, many remain with some new ones seen working residential streets in the freezing cold.  Our newest blog post shows that prostitution remains a problem.

http://saveoureyes.co.uk/managed-approach-update-jan21/ 

Voice of Holbeck Listening Well report

We are grateful for the help and cooperation of the four Strategic Leads responsible for the managed approach policy.  They attended the Listening Well events and heard community experiences.  However, we are disappointed that, since the final draft report was issued privately to all 99 Leeds City Councillors in advance of a debate on the Managed Approach, the leads have decided to have no further discussions with Voice of Holbeck.  We urge the leads to take up the recommendations and community requests in the report, including phasing out the managed approach and providing more help for women to exit prostitution & drug addiction.

 

We call for an urgent ban on all kerb crawling, the arrest of predatory men and better use of existing ANPR technology to identify vehicles and their drivers.  In our opinion, Leeds City Council need to start preparations for a phasing out the MA in the interests of community safety.  


We commend this report to Police and Councils across the UK.  Please learn from what has happened here in Leeds. What can be presented as “best practice” for one group of people may actually be to the detriment of other groups.  Our children deserve better. Our women deserve better.

Voice of Holbeck Listening Well report

To obtain a PDF copy of the Listening Well Report please email voiceholbeck(at)gmail.com

A response from our fellow Voice of Holbeck members, Ruth Gorse Academy

Sir John Townsley, the Chief Executive Officer of The GORSE Academies Trust, of which The Ruth Gorse Academy is a part, says: 

 

“All those involved with the Managed Approach should take notice of the Listening Well Report as it captures the true feeling of the residents of Holbeck, including children who have to live within and commute through the zone.   

 

“Unlike the ‘Independent Review’ into the Managed Approach, this report takes into account the issues surrounding children and the safeguarding concerns raised by schools. I am confident that Leeds City Council will take on board the important recommendations made within the report and address the safeguarding concerns raised.  

 

“What is most regrettable is that key individuals at Safer Leeds and Leeds City Council no longer wish to engage with the Voice of Holbeck who commissioned this landmark report. As the leading community group that represents all residents, including many of our students, it is imperative that they continue to have an active role in the developing conversation around the Managed Approach. This report highlights very real and serious concerns; a failure to act on those concerns could lead to incidents which are potentially life threatening.”

Ben Mallinson, Principal at The Ruth Gorse Academy, adds:  

 

“I echo the sentiment of Sir John. This latest report into the Managed Approach confirms our view that our students are put under increasing risk of harm while ever the zone continues to operate.  

 

“We now need to see a firm commitment from West Yorkshire Police, Safer Leeds and Leeds City Council on a more proactive approach to managing the zone in the short term. Asking ourselves and residents to inform the police after an incident has happened isn’t good enough. We want to see measures which means the incidents are stopped before they occur.  

 

“I remain firm in the position that Leeds City Council need to produce and implement a cohesive and well-thought-out exit strategy for the Managed Approach within the next six-to-twelve months as I stand firm in my view that in the near future, one of our students could be potentially harmed.” 

To obtain a PDF copy of the Listening Well Report please email voiceholbeck(at)gmail.com

The Managed Approach in 2021 – busy despite closure for covid – residents remain at risk

Despite Covid restrictions and some freezing evenings it has been a busy start to the year in Holbeck with regards to on street prostitution. 

There were fewer kerb crawling punters around this month which could be due to covid restrictions or maybe less dosh around due to Christmas credit cards or huge tax bills payable by those self-employed businessmen!

The map shows the “zone” in blue where sex industry activity is supposed to be contained between the hours of 8pm and 6am.  In reality, activity takes place across the residential areas indicated by the yellow pins 24 hours a day.

map of Holbeck & Beeston with managed zone outlined

Maybe it was due to there being fewer punters around that the prostituted women were more prevalent pacing about the streets trying to keep warm whilst they were in between clients. There have been several new faces this month among the women seen in their usual places: St Matthews Street (near the Kings Arms) , Stocks Hill, St Matthews Church/ Community Centre,  Shafton Street, Czar Street, outside the Evangelical Church and other parts of Beeston such as Malvern Street. These are mainly residential streets taken over by the sex industry: the activity is supposed to be contained in the managed “zone” instead.  But it’s not… hence our 3 ½ year long campaign to improve the situation and see the Managed Approach phased out.

On the very snowy evenings it was quiet but then became  even busier when the snow cleared. A couple of evenings the Managed Team “zone cops” were absent and on one the “Batphone” unattended.  It was discovered later that the team had been drawn away on 11th Jan to a shooting in Middleton and  on 21st to  the fire at the LGI. The 21st was particularly busy with regard to on street prostitution so the Team were really missed that evening.

prostitute approaching car, Leeds

Apart from those occasions, residents praised the Team for responding quickly during their working hours. Although when they finish at 6am there seems to be still a spattering of regular women about who are not being spoken to. 

Many fines were handed out this month but they were given for breaking Covid restrictions rather than soliciting for punters.

prostitution in residential parks, Leeds

Here are a few of the activities reported over the last week in January: 

24.1.20 A local business reported needles and  bloody tissue in their grounds 

26.1.20 Four women soliciting outside St Matthews  at 3.30am. The   witness refused to text it in saying “police don’t do anything”

27.1.20 19:17 Woman soliciting outside Evangelical Church

27.1.20  20:00 Woman  picked up by police outside St Matthews

28.1.20 Random stops by police. Managed team picked up two women

30.1.20  17:30 Woman picked up by  a punter in a silver Volvo estate outside Holbeck Mills 

31.1.20  15:20 Woman approached a white van on car park at St Matthews asking for business (he declined) 

31.1.20  17:22 Three police officers spoke to a woman  who then  went off up Shafton Lane but later came back again.

31.1.20  21:46 Two women soliciting  on St Matthews Street , plus a  silver Peugeot car was reported  for kerb crawling

31.1.20  22:49 outside the barbers on Brown Lane East a woman came up to male resident’s car  window when he was turning at the junction and asked for business.

Monday 1 st Feb approx 21.30
Just reported a prostitute on St Matthews Street black boots black jeans white Parker jacket brown hair police on way.
Another one on St Matthews Street blue jeans black boots big brown scarf brown jacket green hat. Reported to dedicated number pcso on way on foot from station
Only one pcso on and she’s on foot from elland road x so she’s got no chance of catching
them!

NOW AVAILABLE!  The Listening Well report by Voice of Holbeck shows the impact of street prostitution and the managed approach on the community nearby.  You can obtain a PDF copy by emailing voiceholbeck@gmail.com

facts about Leeds managed zone for prostitution
used condom in public park, Holbeck

All the reports above were made in the 1-2 weeks prior to publication of this blog post on 1st Feb.
On the left is the same resident’s 4th report to the cleansing team on 4th Feb 2021.  This time they spotted a used condom at the park.  The local shops can be seen in the background.  Used condoms are thrown to the floor at the site of public sex acts.  This is a residential street away from the managed zone.

SOE statement regarding the release of the Listening Well Report in advance of the Leeds City Council debate on street prostitution

We are disappointed to hear that there have been political comments made about the release of the Listening Well report compiled by Voice of Holbeck, of which we are a member organisation.

Both Save Our Eyes and VOH are non-political organisations founded to represent the views and concerns of Holbeck & Beeston Hill residents in relation to street prostitution and the managed approach.

A comment by a local politician indicates that, although they had an advance copy of the report, they felt we should not have shown it to other Leeds councillors until we’d had further meetings with local leaders about it.

facts about Leeds managed zone for prostitution

Our interest is in representing local residents, businesses and all who suffer from the managed approach having been imposed on this community since 2014. We felt that, by issuing the Listening Well report more widely, local councillors would find it easier to represent the views of their constituents at the debate. Until Monday 9th November, only local councillors along with Police and council leaders had seen the report findings. Local councillors would have been unable to quote from it at the debate scheduled for Weds 11th November because it had been issued confidentially, only to people with a specific interest in the managed approach. By removing the confidential nature of the Listening Well draft, Voice of Holbeck were able to allow all councillors access to the document and enable them to openly discuss it’s findings at the Civic Hall.

None of our members were aware of the debate planned for today until the YEP published an article about it at the weekend. However, by coincidence, our own timeline for completing the Listening Well draft was last Friday. Hence the decision, voted for by a majority of VOH members on Monday night, that the report should be made available to all councillors attending the Civic Hall debate.

Local councillors, Police and council leaders attended many of the Listening Well events and had a clear idea of what the residents were saying to VOH and what the outcomes of the report would be. They received an advance copy of the findings on 29th October. Save Our Eyes committee felt that it was in the best interests of local residents to issue the draft. Residents spoke because they wanted to be heard. Keeping the LW report confidential when the managed approach is the subject of a Civic Hall debate would have been a breech of trust.

At present, the report is available to all Leeds City councillors. We hope that it will be made available more widely in the coming weeks.

Sally was 17, with learning difficulties, when she was abducted from a local bus stop and raped. Read her story here

Paedophiles are drawn to the residential streets looking for young women and girls. Meet “Brammers” who is keen to purchase young women for consumption.

13 year old Katie was approached for sex at the bus stop on a Saturday morning – read her story here

Young primary school teacher, Alice, was abducted and raped after being mistaken for a prostitute outside her front door.  Read her story here

Save Our Eyes residents response to the Independent Review of the Managed Approach, Leeds

Our response to points raised in the Independent Review. We are grateful to the team from Huddersfield University for engaging with us during the review process.

For clarity: The Leeds policy applies across the city and is called the “Managed Approach to prostitution.” Aspects of that policy, for example, a dedicated area for street pimping and prostitution, is located in a physical area known as the managed zone/area in Holbeck. It is easy to confuse the policies (Leeds wide) with the location (a small number of streets) when discussing the subject.

Also included below are links to pages on our website www.saveoureyes.co.uk – reporters have permission to lift quotes from our website.

At the request of our friends and supporters who have suffered in prostitution we will refer to sex workers as prostituted women.

This document is a work in progress and may be amended or added to.

We would like to thank Councillor Amanda Carter for her work in securing a debate at Leeds Civic Hall in October 2018.  As a result of that debate an independent review was commissioned by Leeds City Council.

The scope of the Independent Review was narrowed, against the wishes of residents. LCC mandated that the review should not cover all communities affected by street prostitution (areas where zone activity had spread to). A Southern boundary for the Independent Review area was set at the M621 flyover. This excluded streets at Beeston Hill from the review team and the residents survey. Beeston Hill is affected by overspill from the MA.

Photo shows

Top in blue: rough area allocated to managed zone in industrial/ derelict area

Yellow pins: typical spread of used condoms across residential areas nearby indicates residential streets claimed by kerbcrawlers and prostitution

The phone box mentioned in our article is in the centre of the residential area, where the pin is “St Matthews”  community centre.

map of Holbeck & Beeston with managed zone outlined

Another restriction for the IR was that it should only focus on most recent times, to the exclusion of resident experiences and problems over the last 3 years. Reviewers were asked to ignore historical data and concentrate on only the most recent months. This meant that LCC were able to pour in additional resources to try and control the problems associated with the zone prior to the Review period starting. Where the Review mentions improvements these are recent improvements on the situation caused by the managed zone. They did not consider what Holbeck was like prior to the implementation of the zone. The situation may well be better now than it was 2 years ago but it’s still worse than it was 6 years ago. This is why it is noted that residents admit things have improved but still want the zone to be removed from Holbeck.

Recommendation 18 has already been ignored. A simple first step would have been to allow resident representatives at the Independent Review press conference on 9th July 2020 at 2pm. We had requested this and nominated Dennis Kitchen, a “Voice of Holbeck” committee member and chair of the local Neighbourhood Forum. Our request was denied and Cllr Andrew Scopes (Labour) invited to attend instead. Cllr Scopes is not a Holbeck resident and has previously campaigned in favour of the managed approach (a Labour policy.) Voice of Holbeck members were not issued with a copy of the IR until 5pm that day. Due to a press embargo (until 6am, 10th July) reporters who attended were not permitted to tell us what had been said.

The review concentrates on the perceived benefits to the prostituted women of concentrating street prostitution in one small area of Leeds. It does not consider the consequences to residents of that, or the potential benefits of removing the zone completely. As most prostitution is directed there, so is most kerb crawling. Predators on foot roam the streets looking for women & children. Holbeck and Beeston Hill have become areas where non-prostituted women can’t walk the streets without being kerb crawled or approached. We have already documented many previous approaches to school girls by men in the residential streets. http://saveoureyes.co.uk/dirty-man-asked-me-for-sex-im-13/

The report does not examine the dramatic rise in kerb crawling caused by the zone. Punters now believe that “it’s legal” to approach women by car or on foot in any area of Holbeck and Beeston Hill. This has caused fear among female residents who are now unable to walk the streets or stand alone at bus stops. Some employers in the zone allow female staff to leave work early in winter because it is too dangerous for them to walk to the bus stop at 5.30pm. What was originally meant for punters in the Leeds area has become a national “service” causing a huge rise in demand in Leeds. Men frequently travel up to 100 miles to seek prostituted women in Holbeck because they believe they won’t be arrested. One prostituted woman told us that she had two regular clients who drove up from Hampshire every two weeks. This “destination” feature of the MA needs to be reversed.

The review appears to have not considered the impact on children in our community. We have had many reports of children being approached by men on foot on the way to and from school, or when waiting at bus stops. How many communities in the UK have ever had to campaign for the removal of a phone box on their high street because people use it for paid sex? http://saveoureyes.co.uk/managed-approach-to-prostitution-affects-children-in-leeds/

The review also concentrates on the benefits to support services of concentrating street prostitution in one small area. It makes them easier to reach. However, these support agencies are paid to find and support the women and did so prior to the formation of the zone. Making life easier for the support services should not be a factor in a project that makes life so much more difficult for residents who are not paid to put up with it.

The review does not investigate the role of drug addiction as a “motivator” for women to enter prostitution and stay in prostitution. Once “working” in the managed approach a woman cannot escape unless her drug addiction is treated. According to local support agencies over 90% of all women regularly working the MA are addicted to drugs and/or alcohol.

Page 24 notes that one of the original aims of the MA was to “maximise the opportunities for sex workers to access support services (including drug and alcohol services, health, housing, sexual, and domestic violence services) with a view to exiting sex work.” This is a noble aim and worth pursuing, however, we found examples of where this went wrong in practice. We know of a woman who was given a house in Holbeck to help rehabilitate her but her pimp moved in and forced her to continue working, using the house as a brothel. The property became a magnet for punters, the women inside being forced to work 24 hours a day. This caused significant problems with noise nuisance for neighbours. We can only imagine the distress caused to the woman involved, yet the Police softly, softly approach to “sex work” left her imprisoned for around 18 months. The managed approach is a wonderful example of the best hopes and plans working out poorly in practice. Not everything that “should” work on paper actually works in the real world.

The Review notes that the community did and mainly still do regard the MA as the “unmanaged approach” whilst acknowledging improvements in management since 2018. The Review links this to the appointment of Paul Money to Safer Leeds, which has been helpful. However, the impact of Inspector Ian O’Brien in his final year before retirement should also be noted. We remain grateful to Ian and his initiatives, particularly to reduce kerb crawling in residential streets (page 37).

YC60 CTK black BMW, kerbcrawler Leeds

Media publicity, both local and national, has formed a key part of the SOE campaign (page 40.) The IR suggests this led to the negative association of Holbeck being linked to the MA. However, prior to our media campaign commencing in 2017, we checked and found that most Google search results related to the link between Holbeck and prostitution. Save Our Eyes has been instrumental in bringing residents together and revealing the true scale of the problems suffered by the community.

Page 32 mentions the tiered management structure of the MA. In 2018, Voice of Holbeck committee members were allowed 2 seats at the lower tier meetings. At that time it was called the “operations group” as opposed to the higher tier “strategic group” that made the policy. Our delegates discovered that the strategic group did not seem to meet. People in power seemed very happy with the way the MA worked and had no plans to change it. Mr Money decided to move from two groups to three and these were named bronze, silver and gold. SOE/ VOH asked for a seat at the silver group and this was denied. Presently, SOE has one seat on the Bronze group and VOH have two.

The report does not investigate the issue of modern slavery and it’s links to organised crime and forced prostitution of women (especially Romanian women) on the streets of Leeds. The managed zone is the only area in the UK where it is safe for slave owners to prostitute trafficked women in the knowledge that those women will not be interviewed by the Police. Page 19 quotes UK law, The Sexual Offences Act 2003 has been amended by the Policing and Crime Act 2009 to introduce a new offence of making it illegal: “to pay for the sexual services of a prostitute subjected to force, threats (whether or not relating to violence) or any other form of coercion or any form of deception of a kind likely to induce or encourage the prostitute to provide those services”. Police are not routinely stopping or checking that women are working willingly. The trafficked women can’t speak English and are guarded by their owners. The zone makes it more difficult to deal with sex trafficking because removing women to a safe place to interview them is against the spirit of the managed approach.

Recommendations 15, 16, 17 suggest that some kind of PR campaign be undertaken to help the female residents of Holbeck feel safer. This indicates that the review has not taken seriously the frequent threats to residents from prostituted women, pimps and kerbcrawlers. PR and encouraging residents to think about positive aspects of Holbeck life will not solve the dangers posed to them! PR campaigns to improve the thoughts of victims can surely not be regarded an acceptable way of reducing crime. One of our SOE committee members has been approached by kerb crawlers three times in the last 2 weeks… those are just the ones that stopped their cars to proposition her.

See here for other resident accounts http://saveoureyes.co.uk/24-hours-in-holbeck/

We appreciate the inclusion of this point in sec 9.3

The following needs to be made clear and possibly included in MA documentation: The MA is an approach to reduce problems associated with on-street sex working in Leeds, within existing UK law (on soliciting and sex working). It is not, therefore, a vehicle for those wishing to petition for the current law on sex working to be changed. Should this happen, then the MA will change accordingly.

Residents have been attacked online and insulted, with threats being made against their businesses, by sex industry representatives who see the MA as THE main UK stepping stone to the legalisation of pimping, brothel owning and otherwise profiting from the sale of women’s bodies. This input from the sex industry has caused more problems and bad feeling; polarising opinions on both sides. Residents have been deliberately misquoted and portrayed in a negative light. MA supporters conflate the residents objections to the zone with a supposed hatred of the women. In reality, most residents see the women as victims of abuse and coercive control.

Financial costs of the MA (page 24) are quoted as being around £200,000 per year. From our ongoing discussions with Police and LCC we believe this is a significant under-estimate. We believe the women need support to exit instead of support to “work” and that policing should be directed at the kerb crawlers and punters on foot.

LCC cleansing services (page 36) has possibly been the greatest area of success where the community has partnered with the authorities. Daily teams collect the used condoms, tampons, baby wipes and drug paraphernalia from the streets. The reports are coordinated via the Save Our Eyes Facebook group. Council cleansing team staff are members and are tagged in appropriate posts. This has proved a very efficient way of summoning the cleansing team to problem areas. Without SOE, it would take at least 5 days for litter reports to filter through via the LCC reporting system. We remain grateful to the individual workers who have helped our community. However, the amount that remains is still greater than in many other areas of Leeds. We are concerned that the substantial cleansing costs may have been omitted from the total costs stated in the Review. We also wonder if any other residential area in the UK requires such an unusual level of support from a dedicated cleansing team?

The Listening Well report and meetings (page 28) were commissioned by the community led “Voice of Holbeck” group as a means of peer support and securing feedback. The interim report is due mid July 2020.

The IR mentions that Holbeck is a community with a high turnover. This is partly caused by the MA and disruption to resident’s daily lives. We know of many families that have moved away because they feel they can’t raise their children here.

“Don’t know about the other women in South Leeds but I feel so much safer? Oh no sorry…I mean let down…badly, badly let down.

I won’t even walk around this area any more, if I wanna go out I get a taxi directly out of South Leeds unless I have someone with me.  I wear jeans, hoodies and a hat if I do have to walk in this area just so I don’t stand out, I have to fork out for taxis every week day for my daughter to get to school because it ISN’T SAFE – she’s seen enough, we all have!

But yeah a “we love and respect” Holbeck month will make me feel sooooo much safer!!!!  Can’t wait to get out of this place, living here for me is too much of a risk.”

Jessica, mum of three school age children, 10.7.20

I get kerb crawled walking to work in the morning and evening. My partner gets accosted in his work van. The women selling sex assume he is a buyer because so many vans cruise the streets looking for sex. My son, 11, finds used condoms in the park and on the pavement on his way to school. We don’t even live next to the MA, it’s just spread across the wider area.”

Monica, resident at Beeston Hill, 10.7.20

A report from a Beeston Hill resident http://saveoureyes.co.uk/punter-ft11swo-silver-vw-golf/

Report from local mother who caught a couple having sex outside the primary school at home time http://saveoureyes.co.uk/sex-outside-primary-school-fg54yaf/

Suggested next steps:

1 Disassociate the managed approach policy from the managed zone. Remove the zone completely so that the policy applies across the whole city and any impact on residents is shared instead of concentrated. If LCC insist specific streets are required for kerb crawling these could readily be identified because many councillors voted in favour of the MA at a Civic Hall debate in October 2018. We propose that any street in the city where a pro-MA councillor lives could become a miniature local managed zone. The votes of 2018 are on the public record and could be used until another vote is held.

The people of Leeds have turned a blind eye to the plight of Holbeck residents. It’s time to share the burden. Street prostitution has moved before, for example from Chapeltown to Holbeck, and it can move again.

2 The community feedback in the Listening Well report (due soon) should be used to inform decision makers.

3 A total ban on kerb crawling and punters on foot is needed urgently to protect the Holbeck and Beeston Hill communities.

4 A change in UK law is required regarding kerb crawling. At present, we understand that it is a “found offence” that needs to be witnessed by two serving Police officers. This is a far higher burden of proof than is required for other crimes. At present, women who are harassed by punters and manage to obtain video evidence are ignored due to the UK law requiring two police officers as witnesses. Local police have been willing to contact kerb crawlers and interview them but a change in UK law is needed to make the process of dealing with these predatory men easier.

5 A Home Office visit is needed to collect and repatriate Romanian women who have been sex trafficked and forced to work the zone. We understand that there are up to 40 affected women who were originally lured here with promises of work in childcare or beauty salons.

6 We have witnessed the harmful effects of prostitution on the women who live immersed in it. We believe that prostitution is not like other jobs and can never be made safe. The demand from male sex buyers must be tackled by addressing this issue in schools from the teenage years upwards. Paying to abuse a woman should not be seen as normal or something she enjoys. We have noticed that punters on online forums often have distorted beliefs about the women they buy, such as that “she must be a sex addict” or “she does it for fun” or “I’m showing her a good time.” Tackling misconceptions about sex work is essential for British society to gradually move on from it.

The Save Our Eyes committee

10th July 2020

compassion for prostituted women, independent review Leeds managed approach

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