Leeds City Council to debate the “Managed approach” & vote for the first time

Over the last year Save Our Eyes has been working with various groups locally and across the UK to draw attention to the realities of the Managed Approach for Prostitution.  We have exposed the impact it has on residents and businesses in the area, as well as raising our concerns about the way vulnerable women are being exploited on the streets of Leeds.

We have received assistance from the Conservative group of councillors on Leeds City Council and we are delighted to announce that they have now tabled a White Paper to prompt a debate and vote at Leeds Civic Hall.  Most Leeds councillors are expected to attend this debate on 14th November 2018. A debate is something we have called for repeatedly because the managed zone was placed into Holbeck without a full debate of our city councillors. We are very grateful to Councillor Amanda Carter and others who have been able to make it happen.
The motion calls for Leeds City Council to immediately make the MA work as it was intended or suspend the project completely. We believe that the MA does not benefit the prostituted women it was designed to help, the residents or the businesses.  At the moment all sides are suffering.  This summer there have been another three attempted murders of prostituted women as well as the abduction and rape of a local teacher who was apparently mistaken for a prostitute by kerb crawlers.
We want to see a Leeds where modern slavery is tackled by helping victims who are trapped escape, not be “worked” more “safely.”  We want to see our communities freed from the kerb crawlers who persistently follow female residents and even ask children for sex in the streets.
We want the streets cleared of the pimps and drug dealers who threaten and intimidate residents.  The time has come to build a better Leeds, a fairer Leeds.  We call on all Councillors to oppose the Managed Approach – or be willing to move to Holbeck and live amongst the filth, fear and chaos.  According to LCC’s own figures, over 9000 used, discarded condoms have been collected from the streets and parks of Holbeck & Beeston Hill so far in 2018.  That’s around 1000 a month and gives an insight into why the residents and businesses here are so outraged that their views and safety have not been taken into account.

We intend to hold a peaceful vigil at Millennium Square outside Leeds Civic Hall from 4pm on 14th November 2018.  We call on all Leeds residents to stand in solidarity with the residents of Holbeck & Beeston Hill.  The Facebook event is here

“If all European countries would see prostitution for what it really is, that it is part of men’s violence against women and a form of modern slavery, we would have a much better chance of fighting this crime.”
Simon Häggström, Swedish Detective Inspector, Prostitution Unit

Our Mission:

Save Our Eyes campaigns for the rights of all Leeds residents whose lives are blighted by the “managed approach to prostitution” which is currently located in the Holbeck area and spreading to other parts of the city.

We aim to become a community where residents are not subjected to daily harassment from kerb crawlers, prostituted women, danger from discarded condoms, needles and sex industry litter.

We aim to see prostituted women freed from the grips of a drug addiction that was created to enslave them. We recognise that the women who are prostituted would rather lead different lives and we support their wishes to exit the sex industry.

Both sides in this dispute want the same outcome: a peaceful life free from prostitution and abuse.

A “dirty man” asked me for sex at the bus stop. I’m 13.

A “dirty man” asked me for sex at the bus stop. I’m 13.

Holbeck is one of the few places in the UK where men roam residential streets looking for sex 24 hours a day.  The “managed approach for prostitution” nearby has made them feel like they have the right to ask any woman and even children if sex is available for sale.  Katie is not the youngest of our residents to experience this…

“Hello!  My name is Katie and I’m 13 years old.  Me and my mum are so angry about what’s happening in Holbeck that we’ve agreed our story can be published by Save Our Eyes.
 
Last Saturday morning, we were at the bus stop on Domestic Street near Kasa.  It’s a residential area away from the “managed approach.” There’s a lot of prostitutes and dirty men who are looking for the prostitutes around there in the streets all the time.
 
A man came up to us and said “Are you working?”  My mum was confused and asked what he meant.  He replied “Not you! I mean her. Is she working?” and pointed at me.  My mum realised what he meant. She shouted at him “She’s only 13, she’s a child!” but he wasn’t even bothered.  He carried on, “It doesn’t matter about her age.  She looks like one (meaning a prostitute) she doesn’t look like a child.  It’s acceptable in Holbeck to ask.”
 
My mum was furious and I can’t even tell you what she shouted at him next.
As teenagers me and my friends often have encounters with prostitutes and dirty men while we are walking to and from school.  Sometimes we see them having sex or shooting up drugs in the streets.  I once saw a man having a blow job in the church yard on my way to school.  Sometimes residents get into arguments with prostitutes in the street, that can be quite frightening.
 
The walk to school became an experience to avoid.  It should only take me 15 min to walk there, but I can’t go the direct route as there are too many prostitutes and dirty men hanging about near the bridge.  So I have to walk to school the long way which takes me 25 minutes.  I set off for school at 7.15am.  The “managed zone” hours are from 8pm to 7am but the Police don’t check that the prostitutes and men have gone.  To be fair, they never actually go home!”
Katie’s mum, Helen, is still outraged by what has happened.
“I’ve lived in Holbeck since I was 15.  It used to be a lovely place, now we can’t go into the streets without being stopped by perverts looking for sex.  I’ve been stopped myself several times but Saturday was the first time I’d seen a man go after my daughter.
 
There have been times when young children pick up the used condoms left on the pavement. They think they are balloons because many of them are pretty colours.
I’ve complained to the Police several times in the past about sex acts I have witnessed or times I have been intimidated.  The “managed approach” has made the punters and prostitutes much bolder than they were before.  Their attitudes towards the local residents can be shocking.  As Katie described, the man who wanted to buy her on Saturday argued with me.  He felt he had a right to ask any woman in the area for sex.  He was not even in the zone.  The sex industry are trying to claim the whole of Holbeck, not just the small area they have been allocated for the zone.
 
Now the winter is coming, I’ll go out to meet Katie after school to walk her home.  It’s not safe for women to walk the streets after dark here.  Not far from here, a 12 year old girl saw a woman being raped on her way home from school a few weeks ago.  All parents here are concerned about their kids safety.”

Our Mission:

Save Our Eyes campaigns for the rights of all Leeds residents whose lives are blighted by the “managed approach to prostitution” which is currently located in the Holbeck area and spreading to other parts of the city.

We aim to become a community where residents are not subjected to daily harassment from kerb crawlers, prostituted women, danger from discarded condoms, needles and sex industry litter.

We aim to see prostituted women freed from the grips of a drug addiction that was created to enslave them. We recognise that the women who are prostituted would rather lead different lives and we support their wishes to exit the sex industry.

Both sides in this dispute want the same outcome: a peaceful life free from prostitution and abuse.

* Names have been changed but all other details are as told to Save Our Eyes on 22nd October 2018

24 hours in Holbeck: A day in the strife of local residents

We are regularly faced with pro-prostitution campaigners who believe that the zone must be working and the residents are just unreasonable.

So on Friday 7th September 2018 we compiled a few notes from just 24 hours in Holbeck.  

Midnight: Resident report into Save Our Beeston & Holbeck group. SOE admin contacted the resident to get more details.

Calum and his friend Dave finished work late at a club in the city centre and were walking home near the managed zone around midnight when they heard a woman’s voice calling for help…

“We took a detour to a street in the direction where the calls were coming from.  We saw a man trying to strangle a woman.  He released her as soon as we approached and she ran towards us.  The arguments continued.  She’s a sex worker and he’s the punter.  The fight was about condoms.  He wanted her to have sex without a condom and was offering her extra money but she refused.  She had said she would only do it if he wore a condom and he became angry then tried to strangle her. We told him off and threatened to call the Police.  He skulked back to his car.  Dave was stood with the woman on the pavement reassuring her, he said we’d walk her home.  I was watching them.  The punter started the car engine and drove at them, mounting the pavement.  He hit Dave and Dave flew across the bonnet of the car then fell off onto the road.  He missed the woman.  After that the punter drove at me and tried to run me down but I dodged him.  He drove off and we called the Police.”

Save Our Eyes issued this appeal for info 

“Members we need your help to identify a punters car seen in the zone last night. The punter ran over a local resident who went to help a prostituted woman who was being attacked near Dunelm.
The witness believes the reg starts with YF11. It’s a Ford Fiesta 5 door, black, new shape.
Punter is described as approx 5ft 6in, stocky, black hair & black goatee beard.”

12.30am resident report to Save Our Eyes

Resident posts video from her CCTV camera showing prostitute & punter coming out of children’s play area and driving off in punters car.

3am Beeston resident report to Save Our Eyes

“Two prostitutes soliciting outside my house on Malvern Road.” (Malvern Road is in Beeston and is some way from the zone.)

11am Holbeck resident report to Save Our Eyes

photo of used condom left on pavement outside her house at Gaitskell Walk. (This street is outside the managed zone.)

1pm Holbeck specialist cleansing team report that they have attended in response to the report below (made yesterday) and collected a large amount of used condoms, needles and drug litter.

SOE committee member: “The guys from Sweet St Car Park by Halfords just called us to say they’re having increased sex and drug waste strewn across their land and by public footpaths. I just called in to see and there’s unsheathed needles everywhere across the grassland and many areas being used by prostitutes and drug addicts! Holbeck Lcc Cleansing is it you guys for this job, it’s a lot to contend with or should I call council separately?? Awful! X”

managed approach litter Holbeck, 24 hours in holbeck
how the managed approach for prostitution affects residents in Holbeck Leeds

4pm Holbeck resident report to Save Our Eyes

My 12 year old daughter walking home from school rang me to tell me she’s just seen a lady being raped! 2 men had pinned her up against the wall between Holbeck cemetery and Beggars Hill Park and one was pulling off her knickers as she screamed. My daughter ran home and I’ve called 999. She is very upset and vague on description but one male had a white t shirt and the other black tracksuit bottoms. The lady had quite long brown hair and a patterned top.

Her dad says, “A couple of hours later I was checking to see if she’s OK and she said “nah I’m fine.”  I said “It must have been quite an upsetting thing?” and she replied “but it happens round here all the time.”  My 12 year old thinks this is normal.”

Her mum is very angry. “Do you know how horrible it is to have your 12 year old daughter ring you panicking because of seeing this! This area used to be nice – it was somewhere I was proud to live. Now it’s been destroyed!”

Police attended the girls home and interviewed her with her parents.  The location of this incident was outside the zone in a residential area near a childrens playground.

5pm Holbeck resident report to Save Our Eyes

Prostitute on Bridge Road near arches.  Reported to Police. 

6pm Holbeck resident report to Save Our Eyes for LCC Cleansing team

Used discarded condom left outside her house, photo attached

9.00pm Holbeck resident report to Save Our Eyes

“Just phoned the Police to report 2 prostitutes behind Sewells and the response I got from PCSO was that he was on his dinner and would go when he is finished.”

9.45pm Holbeck resident report to Save Our Eyes

“Prostitute on St Matthews street. Hair tied up. Long cardigan, 3 Quarter length trousers. Reported to Police”

(St Matthews Street is not in the zone, it is a residential area)

10pm Holbeck resident report to Save Our Eyes

“Think they’re at it again near my house. Man and woman got out of a yellow transit van, reg no. FG03 NNY. Went round and got in sliding doors at the side.  Been in there together 10 minutes now.”

Our Mission:

Save Our Eyes campaigns for the rights of all Leeds residents whose lives are blighted by the “managed approach to prostitution” which is currently located in the Holbeck area and spreading to other parts of the city.

We aim to become a community where residents are not subjected to daily harassment from kerb crawlers, prostituted women, danger from discarded condoms, needles and sex industry litter.

We aim to see prostituted women freed from the grips of a drug addiction that was created to enslave them. We recognise that the women who are prostituted would rather lead different lives and we support their wishes to exit the sex industry.

Both sides in this dispute want the same outcome: a peaceful life free from prostitution and abuse.

Conversation between Dr Kate Lister of Basis & Paula at Save Our Eyes

The following emails are the conversation between Save Our Eyes committee member, Paula Brown and Dr Kate Lister who works closely with Basis.  Basis are LCC partners in the Managed Approach.  Paula says “I’d never met Kate Lister or had any previous correspondence with her.  As she doesn’t know me she thought she’d “discovered” something controversial… when in fact, everybody knows my husband is an architect and works on the regeneration of Holbeck!  I’ve had meetings with Gemma, Joan and Moya who Kate knows at Basis.  They are all aware why I’m involved in helping the residents.”

1

Dear Paula,

Following the recent press coverage of the Leeds managed approach, I am writing an article for inews that will go to press this week.

I would like to interview you over the phone to discuss the campaign and the long term goals of Save Our Eyes.

Please let me know if you have any availability and would be willing to offer your perspective.

Many thanks,

Kate

2

Hi Kate,

I may not be the best person to talk to if you’re after an official SOE position.  Views of the committee members can differ on certain points.

Do you have a set of questions we could provide written answers to?  There’s an SOE committee meeting tonight.  I could draft some responses today and get them amended/ agreed this evening as I understand you’re on a tight schedule.

Best wishes,

Paula

3

Hi Paula,

Thank you for the offer of drafting responses as a group, I want to talk specifically to you, rather than the committee as a whole.

 Do you have time for a phone conversation this afternoon?

Kate

4

Hi Kate,

Sorry, I can’t. If you email me any questions I’ll do my best to have them back to you tomorrow morning.

Best wishes,

Paula

5

Dear Paula,

I’m sorry you can’t speak today, but here are my questions. My editor wants the article today, but I can request a brief extension if you would like to make a comment.

What is your role within Save Our Eyes? As I understand it, you do not live in Holbeck, but run much of the online content. Is that correct?

Do you feel there is a conflict of interest given that you are campaigning to close the managed area down, but are also a director at Nick Brown Architects – who currently have three projects to build near or in the managed area? Including ‘Radius’, which is directly in the managed area.

Did you or other committee members declare this conflict of interest to the press?

Kate

6

Thanks Kate,

I will draft something for you and send it over. However, just so you’re aware, I am not a director of NBA.

Best wishes,
Paula

7

Dear Paula,

According to company check, you are a director at this company. Could you also explain why this is so?

8

Dear Kate,

You should have checked the official listing at companies house!  If you look again at that link it actually says I was a director for around 6 weeks in 2012.  The CH listing will show you the current company directors.

Best wishes,

Paula

9

Thank you for the clarification. It’s helped enormously.

Kate

10 (this email was sent to Kate BEFORE she wrote her article in inews.  It is the email she quotes from in the article.)
Hi Kate,
Thanks for your questions.  The answers are probably simpler than you expect – there is nothing to hide!
I am one of a group of people who were asked by Matt to make up the SOE committee last year.  I am not the only committee member who lives outside Holbeck.  Members were chosen because they had specialist knowledge and/ or brought different things to the conversation.
Online content is managed by the committee and several people create the content.
Everyone who knows me or has met me in relation to the Holbeck campaign is aware that my husband is Nick Brown who is a local architect.  Nick has worked on the regeneration of urban Leeds for over 20 years.  We have been married for 28 years.  I am not actually a director of Nick Brown Architects or Citylife and am not paid by either company.  I am here on a voluntary basis because I believe in the cause.  There’s no need for me to formally “declare” anything as it’s made immediately obvious, usually as part of any round of introductions at meetings.
 If you check the map of the zone you’ll find that Radius is not in the zone, it is next to it.  Radius is one of four sites in Holbeck that Citylife and their partners aim to bring forward over the next 2-3 years.  Over the next 5 years several thousand residents will move into apartments in the vicinity of the zone.  Several developers, including CEG, are involved in the transformation to create thousands of new jobs and new homes for the people of Leeds.
However, before assuming any conspiracy, you need to be aware why the zone IS the zone now.  The South Bank regeneration would have been further on than it is if not for the recession of 2008.  As development did not take place that area of land was left as a mainly industrial area.  Being quiet at night and having no residential properties made it a candidate for the managed approach in 2014 (This is what was explained to me by council officers.)  Leeds council do not own the land there, only a percentage of it.  The rest is privately owned.  The council plan might be worth discussing with Martin Farrington, director of city development.  My understanding is that as the zone was chosen because there were no dwellings in it the zone will move once the new residential properties are built. (If you look at the zone map the odd shape of it is caused by residential apartments being omitted.)
Therefore, there is no need for property developers to worry about the location of the zone because it will not be there once the area becomes residential.  I got involved in the community campaign because I believe that the problems in residential Holbeck and Beeston caused by the sex industry may become worse once the industrial South Bank is regenerated if Leeds does not address the current situation.  People who live outside Holbeck are usually not aware of how street prostitution, kerb crawling and harassment of residents have expanded far beyond the boundaries of the zone.
On Twitter this week we have seen pro-managed approach campaigners telling residents to move house if they don’t like the sex industry presence on their streets.  The zone does not include any residential streets.  The residents have every right to complain without being insulted.  Another supporter suggested that residents are “taking pictures of one condom and one needle from different angles and presenting them as evidence that the streets are littered with it all.”  (see below for screen shots)
We have also seen pro-MA campaigners alleging that accounts of local residents who have been abducted & raped by kerb crawlers are “anti sex-work propaganda” and a “hoax.”  (screen shots below, articles here: http://saveoureyes.co.uk/abducted-from-holbeck-street-raped-after-being-mistaken-for-prostitute/  http://saveoureyes.co.uk/child-like-17-year-old-holbeck-rapist-escaped-conviction/ )
Aside from the resident’s concerns, I am one of the people who pushes for the women’s issues to be heard.  Many of them suffer terrible trauma and abuse at the hands of punters.  They have no choice but to keep working to fund their drug addictions.  We accept that not all the women are drug addicts but even conservative estimates start at 70%.  During the months I have spent in conversation with former prostituted women, experts, residents and charities I have been unable to find evidence that the women make a free choice to pursue a career in street prostitution.  Many appear to be the adult victims of child sexual exploitation. In a recent court case former prostitutes argued they should not be forced to reveal their convictions and should be considered victims of modern slavery.
The community are very concerned that too little is being done to help women exit the industry and rebuild their lives.  According to local charity, Joanna Project, the average duration of time spent in street prostitution in Holbeck is 9 years per woman.  This is far too long and we all need to work together to help reduce the suffering.
I have always encouraged local residents to have compassion for the women.  They are victims of the commercial sex industry… victims who are paying with their lives, health and sanity.
It occured to me last year that the residents problems can be solved by addressing the suffering of the women.  If we can lift the women out into better lives most of the residents will be happier too.

Best wishes,

Paula
Below are some screen shots of messages to local residents and Save Our Eyes taken from Twitter in the last week.

Dr Kate Lister “liked” the comment above made by Carmen.  The community feel that most pro-prostitution campaigners have failed to investigate what is happening to residents in Holbeck and have no understanding of the community complaints.  They will not accept any evidence that puts the zone in a bad light.

In Kate’s article for inews she writes “Just last week, Leeds based Nick Brown Architects Ltd submitted planning and listed building applications to Leeds City Council to build a 33-storey tower of luxury apartments in Holbeck, on Water Lane – a mere 0.3 miles from the boundary of the managed area. It is one of three major development projects Nick Brown is applying for that will be built just metres from where the managed area is now.”

Read more at: https://inews.co.uk/opinion/comment/holbeck-leeds-managed-zone-removing-it-will-only-displace-vulnerable-women/

The apartments she refers to are high quality rental properties for the people of Leeds to live in!  They are not high cost luxury apartments that will be out of reach of local people.  Rents have not yet been set because the properties have not been built, though rents are expected to be from £650 a month.

As the whole of the South Bank is earmarked for regeneration there are many architects, land owners and property developers involved.  The estimate is that 10,000 people will move into the area over the next 5-10 years.

I lost my child-like 17 year old niece to a Holbeck rapist who escaped conviction by claiming she was a prostitute

I live in the Beeston area and was close to my sister, Cheryl. Cheryl had three children, the youngest is Sally. We haven’t had much luck as a family. When Sally was just 15, her mum died. The family rallied round and Sally remained close to family members, especially her gran (my mother.) Sally has learning difficulties and eventually her social worker felt she’d be better off moving into supported accommodation. She was given a place in Harehills aged 16 where she was happy.

I suppose I should explain a little more about Sally. At the time she was attacked, in summer 2015, she was 17 and still living in Harehills. Her learning difficulties meant that she was rather child-like, more like a young 12 year old. The aim was to help build her independence. She had a bus pass and loved to travel back to Holbeck & Beeston to meet friends and family. Sally’s learning difficulties were immediately obvious to anyone who met her.

On the day she was attacked she had gone to visit a friend in Holbeck as she’d done independently many times before. Sally didn’t have a mobile phone, so she just set out on the trip hoping her friend would be in and enjoying the ride. She liked going out and having little day trips with her free disabled bus pass. Her friend wasn’t at home so Sally went back to the bus stop near City Evangelical Church and waited for the bus home. It was 2pm on a weekday afternoon. While she was waiting a man pulled his car up to the bus stop and started making small talk with her. He offered to give her a lift into Leeds instead of having to wait for the bus. Sally refused his offer but he became insistent that he wanted to give her a lift. As she would not accept he eventually got out of the car and forced her into it.

The man drove Sally to a house on Stratford Street in Beeston, not far away. He dragged her from the car into the house and raped her. After a while he went to the toilet and she ran for her life. She escaped and ran to a house opposite. The neighbours immediately tried to help and took her in. The police were called and the man was arrested. DNA evidence was obtained and the police seemed really confident they would secure a conviction. Due to the attack being so serious he wasn’t let out on bail. He stayed in prison on remand right up to the court date which I think was in October 2015.

“despite her mental age being 12, Sally was forced to testify in court”

My mother told the family that the attack had been so humiliating and degrading for Sally that it would be in Sally’s best interests if her own family were not told the full details. As a result we were asked not to even attend court. My mother went alone with Sally to court without the rest of the family.

Up to this point the proceedings had gone as well as could be expected… but a sad twist of fate meant that the court date fell after Sally’s 18th birthday. The defence forced her to appear and testify in open court, even though she had the mental age of a child. She was torn to shreds. The defence barrister argued that Sally was a prostitute and had been “waiting for business” at the bus stop. She really struggled to answer the aggressive questioning and just fell to pieces.

Even so, the police were shocked when the defendant was found not guilty. All he had to do was claim she was a prostitute and it was apparently believable because she was standing in an area where street prostitution occurs on a daily basis.

What you need to understand about the “managed approach for prostitution” is that it covers a small area of industrial Holbeck but the women & punters spread out way beyond the boundaries of the “zone.” As a result street prostitution is evident over a much larger area, including residential streets. This is why residents are campaigning for the zone to be closed.

We can’t protect the women of Holbeck and Beeston. When women are attacked the men involved can simply claim “I thought she was a prostitute!” and get away with it. Holbeck is the only area in Leeds where men can abduct and rape local women and get away with it. (Read Alice’s story here)

After the trial Sally completely lost her way in life. She got into an abusive relationship with a man and got pregnant. She desperately wanted to keep her baby but social services recommended he be adopted as Sally wasn’t mentally capable of raising a child alone. We haven’t seen her for a while now… she’s lost touch with her family.

I keep thinking about the defence barrister. To him it was just a job: keep his client out of jail no matter what. He was willing to put a rapist back onto the streets and condemn poor Sally to a life of hell. My family have lost confidence in the justice system and those who were supposed to protect us. Sally’s case is well known locally and I’ve been very vocal about it. I’m still so angry.

The residents need help and we need a solution. I don’t know what the solution is but I believe that if we prosecuted sex buyers and cleared the streets of kerb crawlers men would not be able to say “I thought she was a prostitute” in future.

Interview by Paula, Save Our Eyes Committee. This article is strictly copyright and may not be reproduced without permission.

Community leaders education event: watch the videos here

An education event for local community leaders was held at Holbeck Club on 21st June 2018.  Attendees included church leaders, Holbeck Neighbourhood Forum, local councillors, police officers and businesses.

Video 1 One of the brave ladies on this video asked for her identity to be concealed so the top of the video is hidden. Lisa & Claire spoke about their lives as heroin addicts at the recent educational event held for community leaders in Holbeck, Leeds. Lisa shoplifted to fund her addiction and Claire was forced into prostitution by her pimp/boyfriend. They tell their stories about life on the streets and how they were eventually freed with the help of international charity, Teen Challenge UK.

Alan Caton, Former detective superintendent of Ipswich Police talks about their programme to end street prostitution in the city.

Alan led the team that removed street prostitution from Ipswich in the UK. The approach was based on the Nordic Model and combined a comprehensive package of support for the women with a zero tolerance approach to kerb crawling. Presentation was at Holbeck Club, Leeds on 21st June 2018.

Fiona was forced into prostitution aged 15 and spent 11 years trapped in the sex industry. She exited 22 years ago and became a leading campaigner for the rights of prostituted women. She is an advisor to the UK government and the EU.

Fiona is part of SPACE International