The ‘managed approach’ by Leeds City Council and West Yorkshire Police to dealing with prostitution in Holbeck has been given a cautious thumbs up in a comprehensive survey of residents.
It was revealed at the Inner South Community Committee meeting that about a third of residents had rejected the scheme; a third approved the scheme; and a third approved of the scheme in principle, but wanted to see changes to the details of how it operated.
The managed approach attempts to limit the impact of street prostitution on residents and businesses by ‘turning a blind eye’ to soliciting in defined industrial areas at defined times when businesses are closed. Speaking at the meeting, Area Leader Martin Dean said:
“Our aim is to move soliciting away from people’s houses.”
The managed approach has led to improved relations between sex workers and the Police with a number of serious offences being reported and offenders prosecuted.
Back in February, South Leeds Life reported on an angry meeting at St Matthew’s Community Centre. Whilst many people at that meeting opposed the scheme, the biggest complaint was that residents had not been consulted. The Council put that right by commissioning a comprehensive house to house survey undertaken by an independent company, Qa Research, to find out how all residents felt.
The current rules are:
- No offences will be tolerated at any time within residential areas;
- No offences will be tolerated between 7am and 7pm;
- No offences will be tolerated outside businesses which are operating;
- Business premises will be respected and litter disposed of responsibly
- Drug use, trafficking, organised crime and coercion will at no time be tolerated;
- Crime, public order and anti-social behaviour will not be tolerated
- Indecency will not be tolerated at any time
The detail of these rules is now being reviewed by officers in response to issues raised during the survey.
Since a February 2016 both the Council and the Police have increased the amount of resources going into the area with increased PCSO patrols and a dedicated phone line (07534 309568) to report breaches; as well as increased street cleaning.