Is Leeds “Managed Approach to Street Prostitution” really an example of national best practice? If not, what went wrong?

The stated aims and rules of the Managed Approach (MA) were distributed to the women involved by Police and charity workers. After the 1 year pilot phase Oct 2014-2015, the scheme was declared a success.  The MA has consistently been raised up as a beacon of best practice, with suggestions that other cities around the UK should adopt it. 

As time went by, what began as a discreet project came to the attention of punters forums and the national media.  This led to the MA becoming more of a “destination” attraction.  Sex buyers believed they would not be stopped for kerb crawling and access to cheap street prostitution would be easier. The zone also became a magnet for the “barepunting” community: men who only have sex without condoms.  They learned that the high drug addiction rates in Leeds MA meant that unprotected sex could be bought from desperate women for as little as £20-£30.  Men began to travel from neighbouring cities: Bradford, Hull or further afield.  Women were trafficked to meet the demand.  So an MA that was intended to reduce the impact of street prostitution and help women exit ballooned to create a greater problem than it solved.  In 2017, the Holbeck residents started to protest about the sex litter and public sex offences happening in residential streets near the MA.

NB Leeds Managed Approach is a policy that covers street prostitution in the city.  A dedicated “zone” was created for street prostitution in a mainly industrial area, intended to keep sex industry activity contained away from the neighbouring residents.  It has proved impossible to contain the zone, so activity has spread across the residential areas of Holbeck & Beeston Hill.

failed Leeds managed approach

In 2011, the best practice guidance issued by Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO) explained very clearly that street prostitution should be tackled in a 3-pronged approach.

“This strategy, therefore, promotes a holistic approach to the policing of prostitution that keeps in balance the three essential elements of individual, community, and the investigation and prosecution of those who exploit and abuse. It is not possible to effectively choose between these three facets of effective policing; they must operate simultaneously and sustainably.”

Put simply, this means addressing the three key areas of concern AT THE SAME TIME.

1 Women in prostitution (treat as victims of exploitation, help them get out)

2 Protect & work with the neighbouring communities

3 Tackle demand for prostitution by prosecuting the men involved

The first of these “3 prongs” is to consider the women as victims of abuse, something Save Our Eyes has campaigned for.  We do not accept the cohort of women trapped in street prostitution in Holbeck are there by choice.  We see them living in abject poverty, sometimes searching street bins and gutters for scraps of food or cigarettes. Yet these women are some of Holbeck’s highest earners… so where does their money go?  Far from empowering them to live comfortable lives and own their own homes the money goes straight to their drug dealers and pimps/ boyfriends.  The women live on benefits and food bank donations while their earnings are stripped from them systematically, along with their health and mental well-being.  SOE eventually saw that the situation is more akin to modern slavery.

compassion for prostituted women, independent review Leeds managed approach

The second prong is the community.  Here, the ACPO guidance told Leeds City Council exactly what would happen to the local residents if the 3-pronged approach was NOT used.  (Remember, this was published 3 years before the Managed Approach trial began in 2014.)

4.4.4 The risk, threat and harm that can be inflicted on communities by prostitution include: 

  • Harassment of people – generally women, by kerb crawlers; 
  • Environmental – e.g. discarded syringes and used condoms; 
  • Noise/visual pollution – sex workers and those associated with them loitering in the neighbourhood, sex workers’ cards in phone booths; 
  • Associated crimes– e.g. drug dealing, robbery, blackmail, protection;
  • Loss of real-estate and other economic value to the neighbourhood – low house prices and restricted business opportunities; 
  • Exposure to risk by the vulnerable, especially children and young people, which can lead to serious violent and sexual crime, causing long-lasting physical and emotional harm to the individual, and threats or acts of violence to their families. 

It’s almost as though the author, DCC Simon Byrne, had a crystal ball! You can read more about the impact on the Holbeck community on our website and in the Listening Well Report.

The third prong is to go after the abusers, eg the men controlling the prostituted women and those consuming them: the punters and kerb crawlers.

Recommendations included:

  • Effective counter kerb-crawling operations; 
  • DNA samples to be taken in all cases of recordable crime arrests; 
  • Progressive cautioning schemes to be applied in line with a prostitute cautioning policy 
  • Vehicle seizures to be used in persistent cases of kerb-crawling.

The Leeds Managed Approach covered the first prong, though we feel not enough emphasis has been placed on helping women exit prostitution.  However, the second and third prongs were effectively discarded (though from 2018 onwards there has been community engagement).  A pro sex industry campaign group were involved in advising LCC and they persuaded LCC that going after the punters “wouldn’t be fair” as it would be against the spirit of a tolerance zone.  They have consistently warned that trying to reduce the number of predators roaming the streets of Holbeck would “harm” women.  No evidence for this has been supplied and we find the claim ridiculous.  

Street prostitution increased so that it filled and overflowed from the designated industrial “zone” into the residential streets nearby.  Due to media reports that Leeds now had a “legal red light zone” where predators would not be arrested, men flocked here from other cities by car and train to consume the women.  This led to more women being trafficked into Leeds to meet the new demand.

These men cruise the residential streets looking for women and children to purchase sexual services from.  Female residents and school children are approached on a daily basis.  Any woman, of any age, is a target.  Sex acts take place in residents gardens, the parks, the streets and the phone box on the high street.  Used condoms and drug syringes are ditched at the point of use. Thousands of condoms, needles, used tampons, baby wipes & wrappers are collected from residential streets by the specialist LCC cleansing unit for the MA.  Their work has been much appreciated by residents.

The 2014 pilot project ignored half of the ACPO guidelines in place when it was set up, which is why we believe the whole thing has become a nightmare for local residents. LCC and the Police only started communicating with residents in 2017 when SOE was formed.  Voice of Holbeck was then created to bring community representatives together in 2018.  Importantly, VOH’s membership was dictated by the community, acting for the community.  However, Leeds City Council have now decided to replace VOH with their own consultation group where they can control the membership. This should stop the calls from VOH for an exit strategy to phase out of the managed approach and a zero-tolerance policy on kerb crawling!

Obtain a copy of The Listening Well Report by Voice of Holbeck by emailing voiceholbeck(at) This includes resident’s accounts of daily life in the shadow of the Managed Approach.

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

Meanwhile, the residents have suffered and the prostituted women have suffered.  Save Our Eyes are calling for:

  • services to support the women to be improved, especially addiction services. Funding priority should be given to organisations that help women exit prostitution. 
  • A zero tolerance policing policy for kerb crawlers and punters on foot across the whole of Holbeck & Beeston Hill
  • Specialist women’s refuge provision for women needing support to exit, these should be away from the Holbeck area.
  • LCC and the Police to deal with community groups & representatives, not just those who will pay lip service to the Managed Approach policy.

Supporters of the managed approach claim it is successful because prostituted women now report a greater proportion of crimes against them.  However, the huge increases in violence, intimidation and crime directed at the residents has not been taken into account.  Observers must consider the success of the MA “in the round”, not by looking at narrow criteria that only relate to the prostituted women.

We must end this pretence that Leeds Managed Approach is a successful flagship policy.  Aspects of it are in line with best practice and do work well, but the MA has failed overall due to the severe impact on the community and it’s lack of attention towards reducing male predators.  It has caused a rise in demand, not a reduction.

We’ve been working for 3 ½ years to address the problems the MA has brought into Holbeck.  We went from discreet, low level street prostitution, mainly in the derelict industrial areas, to prostitutes and punters queuing outside the community centre and having sex in the park.  In just three years.  That’s all it took for a pilot project, started in October 2014, to change a residential community for the worse and blight people’s lives from 2017 to now.

We believe this problem can’t be tackled effectively by allowing perverted men free access to vulnerable, desperate women.  Since 2017/18 when our work started, life has not dramatically improved for our residents and their children.

Save Our Eyes Committee

March 2021


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. 

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. 

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)

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)

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

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

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.

“Legal teen if possible” – perverts roam free in Leeds Managed Approach for Prostitution

We frequently find content on the punter’s forums that can at best be described as distasteful.  Here is another example of a “man” looking for a teenager.  Barepunting is a site for men who only have sex without condoms.

To be fair to him, he is looking for one that’s 16… but he’ll take a younger one if not.

The “powers that be” tell us that the managed approach protects women.  How could a 16 year old girl ever “choose” to have sex with this pervert without a condom? We believe the illusion of free choice is a myth.

We know that many punters prefer “women” as young as possible.  Regular readers may recall the incident a couple of years ago where a punter asked for a 4 month old baby.  Schoolgirls are regularly approached by kerbcrawlers and punters on foot, even when wearing school uniform during the day.

The managed approach draws men from distances of 100+ miles away, they roam through the residential streets of Holbeck & Beeston Hill looking for women to abuse.

peadophiles Leeds, barepunting

This screen shot and the ones below are taken from the Barepunting website discussion forum on Leeds managed approach.  Editorial use only.

Read 13 year old Katie’s story of a punter asking her for sex on Saturday morning at the bus stop here

Scroll down for more screen shots of the Barepunting discussion thread showing a 16 year old girl working the managed approach. 

Alice, a 17 year old with learning difficulties, was abducted from a bus stop and raped. Read her auntie’s account of what happened here

facts about Leeds managed zone for prostitution

Punter of the Week – WR17 ODN – dark grey Ford near primary school

This predator (driving a dark grey Ford reg WR17 ODN) was caught cruising the streets looking for women near the local primary school at closing time.  Unfortunately for him, the young woman he tried to pick up was one of our members.

As he was tailing her and had pulled over to try and pick her up she asked him “Are you looking for business?”  He responded “Not now, but later.  Have you got a house we could go to?”

Yes, she does have a house pal, but you’re not going there!  Stop trying to buy sex on the  residential streets of Holbeck & Beeston!

Your punter of the week prize can be collected from the customer services desk at Elland Road Police Station. Please share this post to let him know he’s the winner of this prestigious prize!

WR17 0DN

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.

Punter of the Week: driving PK10 GKA red Vauxhall

Punter of the Week: driving PK10 GKA red Vauxhall

Ooh Grandad! Did the law abiding workers of Holbeck really need to see this?  Please share to let him know he’s the winner of our coveted Punter of the Week feature!

An older gentleman took a prostituted woman into public view and had sex with her in the back of his car.  We were originally supplied with video and have taken some screen shots from it.

Wouldn’t this sight put you off your food?  Please share to help him discover that this behaviour is not acceptable.

Punters cruising the residential streets of Holbeck is against the rules of the managed approach.  Any men breaking the rules are deemed to have consented to appear in our “punter of the week” feature.  On-street prostitution is permitted by LCC in a different area of Leeds between the hours of 7pm and 6am.

The competition for our Punter of the Year prize will be even more intense in 2019 than it was in 2018.  Can he win?  Only time will tell!  Please submit your kerbcrawler photos or videos via the Save Our Eyes Facebook group.

error: Content is copyright Save Our Eyes 2020