Reference group helps monitor sex work area

Problems associated with street prostitution in Holbeck continue, but agencies including the Police and Cleansing have increased their activity and there is improved dialogue between residents and agencies.

A sex worker plies her trade on a residential street

Since we reported on the public meeting on 3 October, a Reference Group has been established to enable dialogue between Holbeck residents and agencies in the area.

The ‘Managed Approach’ tolerates some sex work in industrial parts of Holbeck between certain hours in an attempt to keep the long running problem away from residential streets.
The Council and the Police came under fire from residents at the October meeting who said the approach simply wasn’t working.

The Reference group involves members of the Facebook Group ‘Save Our Eyes’, St Luke’s Church, St Luke’s Primary School, the Holbeck Neighbourhood Plan group, Unity Housing Association, Police Officers and Councillors.
Since October both the Police and Cleansing have set up dedicated teams to work both in the managed area itself and in surrounding hot spots.

A weekly bulletin is being circulated with information about what actions each agency has taken including removing used condoms, needles and other drug paraphernalia; enforcement action taken against women breaching the terms of the managed area and  arrests for charges including soliciting and rape.

Three monitored CCTV cameras have been installed in the managed area and are now operational. It is hoped these will give confidence both to the sex workers and to staff of businesses in the area.

A spokesperson for Safer Leeds said:

“It is really important that the community continue to report any incidences to the dedicated mobile phone number – 07534 309568 – as all intelligence is acted upon and can often help the police build up a clearer picture of unlawful activity within the area.”

Leeds City Council have organised a follow up residents meeting in Holbeck to provide feedback on the work which has taken place since the 3rd October public meeting.

The meeting will take place on Tuesday 16 January at St Matthew Community Centre at 7.30pm. As agreed in October, senior Councillors, senior council officers and senior Police Officers will be present.


2 Replies to “Reference group helps monitor sex work area”

  1. I understand you’re having another public meeting on the managed approach in Leeds. I looked into this when a piece of biased propaganda was sent to me through my letterbox earlier this January month. I am a resident of Holbeck who lives very close to the managed approach and I would like to say I am a very firm supporter of the managed approach and I would like to see it continue.

    Unfortunately, as a result of my support for the scheme, I do not feel I will be welcomed by most of the residents making up the meeting. The propaganda material itself even advises if I’m against the managed approach, I should attend the meeting. So simply attending the meeting, and increasing the number of attendees might mean I am voting against the scheme. Is this how senior Councillors, senior council officers, senior Police Officers and residents who attend really see it? And even if I did attend, these so called public meetings, and debates will be biased against the approach. The supporters will stay away. Those that aren’t too bothered will also stay away. Those who have a problem with it will make it a date and turn up, even cancel other meetings they may have. They will then run the debate. And the debate will be biased. The same way the managed approach survey sent out to residents some while back would’ve been skewed towards abolishment – the opposers must’ve cello taped it to the fridge, and majority cast a vote. The supporters and those on the fence, were guilty of being too relaxed and didn’t cast a vote – and I’m guilty too. In the same manner, the opposers will turn up and not shy away from the debate, unlike the supporters whose voice will go unheard again after all. So should I attend the meeting, I dare not say much in the meeting otherwise I fear hostility, awkwardness and dare not show my face at the Domestic Street Post Office again. I mean there is no anonymity in the meeting nor a facility to even make anonymous statements or questions before the meeting, forget during the meeting.

    I am aware of the reason for introducing the scheme, the pros and cons of it. Some may know more than me, others less. Being a supporter, I am unlikely to actively preach why I support the scheme, unlike the opposers who feel comfortable going door to door posting propaganda. We need to open our minds, face the realities and introduce new thinking. I do see positive difference before and after the scheme. There will always be some transgressions, but it doesn’t mean it should be scrapped and we go backwards. Also how much truth is there that the scheme isn’t working or gone worse? What if a working girl is just walking to or back from the managed zone? How else is she supposed to get there? Taxi? What if she’s just going to the shops? Plus the increasing number of vigilantes that are actively looking for any little transgression make it look like it is now more common.

    I also feel a lot more comfortable knowing the girls are now being afforded some safety. We do not know their circumstances, and what risks they face out there. If providing services is a source of income for them, then it is not for the moralistic naysayers to deny them that and the safety that now comes with it, and tell them how they should or should not earn money, just because it does not agree with them. Buying and selling has always gone on whatever the approach, it is about time to make it safer and offer support. The charities know the girls the best, what they go through, etc, so if they say a managed zone is the best way forward, then it is. Not the views of some person tucked away in a warm home down in Beeston who is supposively protecting the rights of the working girls by trying to put them in danger again or stop their right to earn income the way they are able to. If they really cared, why don’t they start by listening and supporting them like the charities do!

    I do however agree that the managed scheme needs to be respected. The zones and times need to be adhered to (the question remains where do they go for the activity). The children should not be exposed to the activities or come across paraphernalia. Litter should be cleaned, etc. This is an ideal which we should strive for and am sure the scheme is targeting. Not just for the working girls’ sake, but also for those concerned residents. I totally understand that, and sympathise on that. This ideal is what I wholeheartedly support. Not just tolerated but managed. And to me it is working better than the previous enforcement approach, though nothing can be perfect. Scrapping it won’t help anyone, not even the residents, and will even make it worse like before, lose the years of progress made and it will just put the girls’ lives at risk again – and it is their right to work in safety as it is for all workers.

    However, there will be some that no matter what will be against it, will have the loudest voice, will be more active in the politics of it, and feel very proud of it given the nature of the debate. I fear the authorities might give into this biased view under pressure, hence why I had to write on behalf of the silenced others, the authorities, and the charities – anonymously. I am also not at all happy with the recent propaganda material received, which is a major reason for writing this. It gives a one sided of view of the scheme and uses sensational and emotive language with which the everyday people will side with, either through choice or pressure, believing it is right, not knowing the full extent of it. And I don’t blame them as they need better, unbiased information on this matter which is lacking.

    To conclude, these meetings and debates will be made up mainly of those against it. In the last debate in October, the charity workers and agencies did not even get a say whatsoever even though it was planned they will speak in support of the scheme. I heard the other side, but I wanted to hear them, and I was disappointed they didn’t get a say. Importantly, the police officers and councillors who did speak became overwhelmed by the crowd and at the end appeared to bow down to the pressure, in order to be seen as listening to the residents. Let me say this next time they feel the pressure. The opposers do not represent me, nor the other supporters who won’t feel welcome there from the start. Our views and voices are silenced as we do not have a comfortable means of expressing our views. Nor do the opposers represent those who are not really bothered by it as much, the very people whom these opposers are now trying to persuade to join their thinking with propaganda, which needs to be balanced out with better information and education before the opposers take an upper hand. Plus everyone attending is not necessarily against it as you or others , including the material sent to me, seem to assume. Nor the attendees, who are not just from Holbeck but other areas, represent the true view for the many thousands of residents living near the area, especially Holbeck residents. And don’t forget the results of the survey where the majority wanted the scheme to remain, despite its results themselves being skewed.

    This is the supporters viewpoint. Both, the opposers and supporters have rights to express their views. I had to express it anonymously this way as for me it’s the only way. Not through the meeting to be held shortly. It took a lot of effort to write it, and not many will go to this great length – takes more effort than to attend the meeting. So I hope this other usually silenced supportive viewpoint is indeed given the right to be expressed whenever and wherever these meetings take place. The contents of the heavily biased debate is not the be all and end all. There is a counterargument not just from me but many others alike who will naturally stay away due to potential repercussions. And please let charity representatives speak next time to at least balance the tone of the meetings somewhat. Thank you.

    1. Thank you for your comment Sarah.

      I just need to clarify that South Leeds Life is neither in favour nor against the Managed Approach and the meeting on Tuesday has not been called by us, but by the Council.

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