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

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