The Managed Approach: A resident’s response to Cllr Andrew Scopes

In this article Laura Walton responds to Cllr Andrew Scopes’ recent article on the issues around street sex work in Holbeck. We know this is a contentious issue, or rather what is to be done about it is contentious. One of South Leeds Life’s aims is to be a platform for debate of such issues. We welcome comments, below, or if you would like to write a longer piece please email it to:


Many thanks for giving me the opportunity to respond to the recent article justifying the establishment and continued support for the ‘Managed Approach’ in Holbeck. I live in Holbeck and have a small corner shop there so I see the problems every day.

Unlike Councillor Andrew Scopes and the Labour Party I am totally and utterly opposed to this disgraceful project and intend to continue to campaign until this disgusting project is abandoned and the rule of law re-established in Holbeck. While I accept that this was implemented with the best possible motives, unfortunately it is a true saying that “the road to hell is paved with good intentions.”

The very essence of my opposition is that it can not be morally right to create an area where criminal men (pimps and drug pushers) are encouraged and kept safe from arrest while they sell drug addicted women to other criminal men (kerb crawlers). What has been created is nothing less than some kind of ‘slave market’ where prostituted women parade up and down in areas of Holbeck and perform acts of gross indecency  on the residential streets of Holbeck  to line the pockets of drug dealers and pimps.

The rules of the ‘managed approach are a farce

  1. No offences will be tollerated at anytime within residential areas
  2. No offences will be tolerated between 6am and 8pm
  3. No offences will be tolerated outside businesses which are operating
  4. Drug use, trafficking, organised crime and coercion will at no time be tolerated
  5. Crime, public order and anti-social behaviour will not be tolerated
  6. Indecency will not be tolerated at any time

Unfortunately every one of these rules is being consistently and regularly broken. If anything they demonstrate how out of touch Safer Leeds actually is. These rules might have half a chance of working if they were seeking to moderate the behaviour of the characters in the film Pretty Women. However, it is evident from the amount of sex and drug litter that none of the women or their clients are using the zone as a ‘meet and greet’ area and then going for dinner in a nice hotel before settling the fee at breakfast the next day.

One key area of failure is the non enforcement of rules 4 and 5. It is the persistent acceptance of all the associated crime that drags the name of Holbeck through the mud.

Of equal importance are what is not specified in the rules. The rules do not speak of People Trafficking or Modern Slavery, yet it is clear that women are being brought into Holbeck from other cities in the UK and from Eastern Europe. The very fact that these women are being brought into the area and transported out again on a daily basis is by definition people trafficking and yet this is allowed to continue.

The project seeks to manage the unmanageable

The project is unworkable and doomed to failure because it seeks to manage people who are unmanageable. Numerous interviews with drug addicted prostituted women have all had the same content. Never has one of them said I enjoy this lifestyle. Indeed when in their ‘right mind’ they have expressed a wish not to do it anymore. However once in the  grip of addiction these women loose control of themselves. Nothing matters more than their next fix. In such a state there are no sanctions that can be places on them to restrain or modify their behavior.

It provides a ready market for drugs 

The link between drugs and street prostitution is evident in the litter that has been regularly collected by the Leeds City Council’s Cleansing team. In the 9 month period (6 January – 5 October 2018) 6,504 pieces of sex litter (used condoms, bloodied tissues and latex gloves) together with 516 used needles were collected within the managed zone. Also within the residential area 1,995 pieces of sex litter and 159 used needles were collected. Rule number 1 is being consistently and regularly broken. Also the fact that Safer Leeds have had access to this data removes them from the defence of plausible deniability. There is no doubt in the minds of law abiding residents of Holbeck that drug dealing and street prostitution are inextricably linked.

Street prostitution has always existed and cannot be eradicated

This is a total myth that has been exposed as such by the Ipswich Police force. The Ipswich crime and disorder reduction partnership was established which had the aim of removing street prostitution in Ipswich. It did this by:

  • Identifying the problem. Continual monitoring and evaluation of street prostitution and those involved in the activity enabling appropriate responses to the problems as and when they arrive.
  • Developing routes out, offering individual multi-agency case conferences for each individual involved in street prostitution.
  • Tackling demand, responding to community concerns by deterring those who create the demand and removing the opportunity for street prostitution to take place
  • Prevention, awareness raising and early intervention measures to stop individuals, particularly children and young people becoming involved in prostitution.
  • Community Intelligence, understanding the key issues, the extent of the problem and the impact in the local community.

Ipswich used the Anti Social Behaviour Act 2003, which provides local partnerships with civil measures to address both the street prostitutes and kerb crawler activities using ASB tools such as Acceptable Behaviour Contracts and Anti Social Behaviour Orders for those persistently causing a nuisance to the local community. Criminal justice related interventions for prostitutes and kerb crawlers as set out in ‘prostitution and kerb crawling ( are”

  • Arrest- referral schemes for drug dependent prostitutes
  • Prosecuting those abusing children through prostitution under the Sexual Offence act 2003
  • Giving kerb crawlers the opportunity of retaining their anonymity in exchange for going on a re-education programme.
  • Driver disqualification for persistent kerb crawlers
  • Using planning enforcement orders against owners of premises used for prostitution.

They also used criminal justice interventions as laid out in the Sexual Offences Act 1959 as well as the full range of sexual offences as per the 2003 act alongside the Anti Social Behavior legislation available.

There is no alternative to the current strategy 

Yet another myth, Sweden and Norway have introduced legislation that sets in place what has become know as the Nordic  Model. This legislation decriminalses prostituted individuals and provides high quality services to help them exit the trade,  but makes buying sex a criminal offence with the key aims of changing social norms and reducing the demand for prostitution that drives sex trafficking. This approach also cracks down on profiteers (pimps, brothel keepers, sex procurers and drug dealers).

I remain optimistic that in the end those who have tried so hard to maintain this disgusting project will come to see that no matter how it is viewed, it is unmanageable and is to no one’s interest except for the pimps, drug dealers and kerb crawlers.


This post was written by Laura Walton

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13 Replies to “The Managed Approach: A resident’s response to Cllr Andrew Scopes”

  1. That’s brilliant and says it all. Cllr Scopes and his party need to reconsider their position on what is a totally failed policy extremely quickly.

  2. Unlike Councillor Dopes and his Labour cohorts, you actually live in Holbeck!!! I am finding it difficult to sell my house here as everyone associates Holbeck with the red light district. In 2002 when I settled here the price was similar to Beeston, but now issues like the mismanaged approach are dumping on Holbeck.

  3. Agree with this article 100%, could you imagine this being allowed to happen in North Leeds, This being allowed to happen on any level is just plain wrong, Society is quickly destroying itself and all moral values are disappearing for the sake of money drugs crime, Its about time some politician stood against this disgusting behaviour, but that would takes guts and a conscience sadly Ive never met a politician that has either of these qualities.

  4. Excellent article, clearly stating the problems for residents and offering clear alternatives that have been tried successfully in other places. It really is time for this to be looked at properly by the council and especially the Labour party. We expect our local councillors to support our community.

  5. Unbelievable and Unnaceptable that this is allowed in any community in 2019! Can we please remember that prostitution, drug dealing, human trafficking and kerb crawling to name a few horrific acts that are going on in front of children/young people and residents is illegal! The filth they have to see on their streets on a day basis is unbearable.
    Come in Government listen to the people who are having to live with this on their doorsteps not the ones who are all saying it’s ok because it isnt on their’s!!!

  6. All three councillors are waste of space, including the dedicated police who does nothing just arrives late, wasting your time by taking reports and then do nothing….talking from experience..unfortunately…#GoHar (D) on the managed zone!

  7. A very good article regarding the farce known as the managed zone .
    Holbeck should be and is about regeneration which will shortly be starting in the Bath Road and Water lane area that is in the middle of this managed zone .
    Will it still exist when millions are spent on building offices , apartments and the restoration of Marshalls mill or are the wonderful councillors going to move the zone and if so no doubt it will be in south leeds .
    These council officials don’t represent your average working class Holbeck resident but do seem to find the time to represent Prostitutes and drugs .
    Do any of these Councillors or Spokespeople for the managed zone actually live in Holbeck or do they occasionally visit for photo opportunities and the odd meeting at st matthews where they come out with the same excuses and carefully thought out responses to Residents complaints .
    The whole thing is a disgrace created by these councillors amongst others who don’t seem to have a clue about real life .

  8. Very well said and researched Laura!
    I would like to add a comment about the situation in Holbeck.
    They say that you cannot make an omelette without breaking some eggs. But you can control where you attempt to make that omelette. You could apply this analogy to the Holbeck situation.
    It is apparent to the residents in Holbeck that their neighbourhood has been selected to take part in an experiment without their full consent. The good people of Holbeck are not eggs to be broken nor are their homes, lives or neighbourhood the correct place to attempt the making of an omelette of vice, drugs and other unlawful offences. This is our kitchen. The perpetrators need to use their own kitchen or build one in a place that does not affect its inhabitants.
    Experiments should be safely executed in a controlled environment with limited variables to ensure the health and safety of all, not a populated area with families!

  9. Steve puts his finger on a real puzzle: how does council support for the unmanaged zone sit with efforts to regenerate Holbeck? What can the council possibly say to businesses that will make them invest in an area made toxic by prostitution, drug dealing and people trafficking? Are developers being told don’t worry, we’ll kick the problem up the hill to Beeston? Perhaps Cllr Scopes could be invited to enlighten us.

  10. The problem Graham Barker is that it is already in Beeston . A prostitue attempted to stop me in Sunbeam Terrace a short while ago,
    maybe she was on her way to the ”Zone” but i doubt it . In addition i found a used condom and empty condom packet in my garden .
    This problem is now very toxic and needs sorting .
    The councillors who represent the people of Holbeck are no more than useless in this situation as their hands are tied and told to keep their true feelings to themselves except for Cllr Andrew Scopes who is making this political , the so called Labour Elite are a total disgrace.

  11. Well said… is about time the local residents were heard I’ve said it many times before LCC are no better than the pimps and dealers by justifying and allowing something that is ILLEGAL in the area. Every child has a right to grow up safe both at home and in the environment were they live. If a parent allowed their children to be at risk of these dangers then Social Services would be knocking on their door – so why are LCC and WYP allowing it to happen? The only thing LCC are MANAGING to do is put the lives of not just the prostitutes involved but everyone who lives and works in Holbeck. Well Done LCC and all involved for constantly making themselves look ridiculous, whilst wasting yet more money!

  12. Well said Laura, the ‘unmanaged’ zone needs to stop. It already has spread to Beeston. I drive through holbeck every morning going to work from Beeston and see at least one prostitute a day out of the ‘zone’ touting for business.
    ‘Not in my back yard’ springs to mind where the council are concerned. The council clearly don’t care about what the residents or the children have see and live with on a daily basis. Pretty sure if it was happening in their street something would be done asap.

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