Why I support the Managed Approach to prostitution

In this article Cllr Andrew Scopes (Beeston & Holbeck) sets out his thinking 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: info@southleedslife.com.

 

I am grateful for the opportunity to share my thoughts and let you know about what we’re doing. One of the issues that gets talked about more than any other in our ward, and in particular in Holbeck, is the Managed Approach to prostitution.

The topic is hugely emotive and there is lots of disagreement but, believe it or not, all interested parties have a common goal. All the groups I’ve talked to want the same thing – an end to street prostitution. Everyone from local demonstration groups (who vehemently oppose the current managed approach), right through to Basis Yorkshire (who support the Managed Approach) see this as the ultimate aim, which gives me hope that we might succeed if we work together, something that I am committed to doing.

What is the Managed Approach?: it is the current strategy adopted by Leeds City Council, West Yorkshire Police and their partner agencies to tackle on street prostitution with the primary aims of:

  1. keeping street prostitution out of residential areas;
  2. increasing the safety of those selling sex; and,
  3. providing services that will help those selling sex exit prostitution.

It was introduced because these things were a problem. Whilst it may not have solved these problems (yet) we know that it is not the cause of the problems because they were present before the managed approach was introduced.

Practically it means that those people soliciting and kerb-crawling within a specific geographic area in a light-industrial area in Holbeck will not be arrested. Additionally, Basis Yorkshire and the Joanna Project operate in that area, working with those selling sex to help them out of prostitution. This help includes drug rehabilitation and housing assistance. Note: housing provided by Leeds City Council or its partners must be outside of residential Holbeck.

Why would we accept this, it sounds like giving in?!

Let me make it quite clear: I’m totally against the sale of sex, and would like to see the end of it. So how have we got to where we are? We live in the real world and a dose of pragmatism is very often needed to make effective decisions. There are a number of things that affect our options:

1. National policing guidance: The guidance provided nationally to the police effectively advises against arrests for soliciting or kerb crawling. Evidence shows that enforcing simply displaces it, rather than eradicating it. This means that we need an approach or we just bury our heads in the sand.

2. Previous approaches: Before 2014 (when the Managed Approach started), police made arrests for soliciting. They held them overnight and issued a fine which is the maximum penalty. In their experience, prostitutes quickly returned to work but often with additional thefts because they had a drug habit to feed and had missed a night of work and needed the money. Because this resulted in increased crime it was not effective police work.

3. The Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) do not support the prosecution of kerb crawlers and so arrests were effectively pointless.

What are our options then? It is absolutely essential that any approach taken to manage the sale of sex on our streets needs to protect residents, in particular children, and ensure that those caught in prostitution can exit. We are also required to work within the current laws which means that selling sex is legal.

The most significant challenge, to date, of the Managed Approach is and has been the effective enforcement of the Rules consistently, meaning that residents of Holbeck have faced the brunt of the anti-social issues which are associated with prostitution. This is why the council has worked with/petitioned the police to enhance the policing. From 1 December 2018 four new police officers dedicated to tackling the issues around the Managed Approach will work alongside the current Neighbourhood Policing Team.

For some time local councillors (including myself, but also my predecessors) have been asking the police to spend some time tackling the issue of kerb crawling in residential Holbeck for obvious reasons. From the 1st of December 2018, the police started a new protocol to try to take action against kerb crawlers – only time will tell if this is working, but I certainly hope it does!

We are committed to working with residents who are ‘at the coal face’ to tackle those who operate outside of the designated area. A group of local representatives meet regularly with Leeds City Council and West Yorkshire Police to assess what is working and what is not. The police have a dedicated number for residents to report activity quickly – they know that they can’t be everywhere but that residents see most things that go on.

Overall, the reason I currently support the Managed Approach, despite its faults, is that I don’t see a better way of tackling this long-term issue. However, we are committed to working with residents and local businesses to identify improvements via constructive feedback.

Independent Review

Despite all the work and the clear logic in the approach, there has been significant criticism. The council (including myself) voted for an independent review of the Managed Approach. Having a truly independent perspective on how Leeds is trying to deal with on Street Prostitution will be hugely valuable, and we as a council will listen very carefully to the outcome of the review.

The link to drugs:

Drug waste, including condoms which can be used as a tourniquet, is also a serious problem in Holbeck.

Drug use is certainly prevalent amongst prostitutes and, unsurprisingly, some of the factors associated with drug use are similar to those that push people into prostitution.

However, I would like to state that, although drug use has increased, the number of people involved in selling sex on the streets of Holbeck has not.

Additionally, drug taking, both locally and in the city centre, has increased significantly in recent years making drug waste a major issue we face as a city, not exclusively a problem for Holbeck.

The link to crime:

There has, sadly, always been a link between our more deprived communities and higher levels of crime. An argument against the Managed Approach is that it brings more crime to the residential part of Holbeck. However, the YEP recently published a report showing that Holbeck wasn’t worse than statistical neighbours.

This is particularly interesting as one of the issues for the police is a lack of reporting. Holbeck has groups set up to encourage reporting and I suspect that the overall level of crime versus other areas is actually better than reported. Just to be clear, any crime is too much crime, but statistically the managed approach is not directly linked to higher crime.

 

This post was written by Cllr Andrew Scopes.

We encourage anyone living or working in South Leeds to use this website to tell their news. You can either use the Create an article for South Leeds Life page, or email us at: info@southleedslife.com.

 

12 Replies to “Why I support the Managed Approach to prostitution”

  1. Just close down this managed zone in holbeck. It has already spread to beeston hill. An absolute disgrace that people have to live in this area and put up with this

  2. South leeds is used as a dumping ground for societys problems Holbeck residents do not want to be living in a managed red light zone area .
    All we ever hear is platitudes and excuses from Councillors and all the so called experts who do not live in Holbeck .
    They seem to have a total disregard for the residents , development of the area will shut it down not residents complaints as usual money will talk.
    Shame on these representives of the people .
    Because they are not listening to us the people who voted for them ( Disgraceful )

  3. I totally agree with Steve councillors don’t live with the problems in South Leeds they back everything they don’t want on their doorsteps! I’m surrounded by privately rented houses that are drugs send and brothels and no amount of complaints makes any difference. Can see where priorities lie when it comes to Christmas and summer no Xmas lights on dewsbur y road all the takeaways double as Xmas lights and come the summer no flower displays until Tommy wass yet the councillors for hunslet and riverside (joke in itself) can sponsor hanging baskets on tempest road. They don’t live in the area so shouldn’t be able to make decisions for those who do!

  4. I totally agree with Steve councillors don’t live with the problems in South Leeds they back everything they don’t want on their doorsteps! I’m surrounded by privately rented houses that are drugs send and brothels and no amount of complaints makes any difference. Can see where priorities lie when it comes to Christmas and summer no Xmas lights on dewsbur y road all the takeaways double as Xmas lights and come the summer no flower displays until Tommy wass yet the councillors for hunslet and riverside (joke in itself) can sponsor hanging baskets on tempest road. They don’t live in the area so shouldn’t be able to make decisions for those who do!

  5. I’ve only one thing to say SHUT it DOWN AND TAKE IT TO YOUR DOOR STEPS, Holbeck ones was a lovely community and you so goody’s have ruined it

  6. As with anything that needs management, everything depends on the quality of management and the daily diligence of managers. In the case of Holbeck there seems to be a lot of earnest, reassuring talk – Cllr Scopes is a prime exponent of it – the sole purpose of which seems to be to gloss over a lack of effective action on the ground. South Leeds has been talked down to, stepped on and ignored for too long. It can’t go on.

    As for the longer-term solutions that Cllr Scopes can’t see – perhaps a national solution to kerb crawling is to use cameras and ANPR to issue fines to persistent offenders. If fines can be issued through the post for speeding and parking, they can be issued for kerb crawling in known prostitution hotspots.

    Having three points on your licence for soliciting might do far more to discourage kerb crawling than four (allegedly!) extra police officers. How about Cllr Scopes backing an experimental camera scheme in Holbeck?

  7. My wife & I got threatend by the council for throwing some bread out to the birds when the ground was white with frost & ice! Appartenly Leeds council can’t control the rat problem. We need a new council, a different party. I mean we have prostitutes, needles, sexual predators, a serious sexual assualt in the news today, but no!….. threaten people for feeding 2 wood pigeons, 2 sparrows & a black bird! Thats right Leeds city council your doing a great job.

    1. Beeston does have a rat problem. Cats keep bringing them into the house. About time something was done about the rat problem and the managed zone

  8. My nieces house has loads of rat droppings. Rats are getting in and Leeds city council will not do anything about the epidemic in beeston. What do we pay our rates for

  9. Post from safe our beeston

    Leeds city council [LCC] have just released the latest data concerning all the sex and drug litter that LCC cleansing department have collect in October, November & December 2018. I have been able to plot the 6-month period [ July to December 2018] on the map. The map shows clearly that safer Leeds and West Yorkshire Police have failed to keep this disgusting experiment within the so called Managed Zone for Street Prostitution in Holbeck. It is pretty clear that whilst the major problem is still in the Residential areas of Holbeck, it has spread across the M621 and is now into Beeston Hill.
    In 1st half of the year total amount of sex litter collected in south Leeds was 5370, in the 2nd half of the year this has increased to 7559 a 40% increase. In the residential areas [Holbeck & Beeston hill], 1st half of the year total amount of sex litter was 1238 in the 2nd half of the year this has increased to 3010. A 143% increase !!!!. when are they finally going to admit that they are trying to manage the unmanageable !!!

    July to December 2018
    Location Postcode Total
    Salford Van Hire LS11 9PL 1066
    Coleman Street LS12 1AP 594
    Springwell Court LS12 1AL 952
    Triumph Close LS11 9RJ 329
    Braithwaite Street LS11 9XE 564
    HOLBECK LANE GINNEL LS11 9DB 159
    SPRINGWELL ROAD LS12 1AF 25
    SPRINGWELL STREET LS12 1AN 6
    Arnold Clark LS12 1AA 1
    Czar Street LS11 9UH 298
    Creskell Rd LS11 9NF 1035
    Ingram Road LS11 9LA 81
    Kenneth Street LS11 9RF 497
    Kings Arms, Balm Walk LS11 9PG 97
    Brown Lane West LS12 6EH 106
    Lowfields Avenue, Telecoms LS12 6HQ 48
    Lowfields Avenue, Brewology LS12 6HH 86
    St.Lukes School LS11 8JA 80
    New Craven Gate LS11 5NF 296
    St. Matthews Church LS11 9NR 49
    City View Medical Practice LS11 8LH 172
    St. Matthews Street LS11 9NR 35
    Domestic street Bulls head LS11 9NS 25
    SHAFTON LANE LS11 9QY 59
    HOLBECK WMC LS119QX 2
    FAIRFAX ROAD LS11 8SY 1
    St. Lukes Road LS11 8PE 1
    MOOR VIEW LS11 9QL 11
    CROSBY STREET LS119LS 4
    Barton View LS11 8TR 2
    Crosby Road LS11 9LX 1
    Holbeck Moor Road LS11 9QL 1
    BROWN LANE EAST LS11 9PE 4
    MALVERN STREET LS11 8SQ 1
    NINEVEH ROAD LS11 9QG 1
    MEYNELL SQAURE LS11 9QA 1
    PLEASANT MOUNT LS11 9NT 1
    NEW PRINCESS STREET BRIDGE LS11 9ND 4
    MALVERN ROAD LS11 8TS 2
    NEW PRINCESS STREET LS11 9ND 2
    BEESTON ROAD LS11 8ND 1
    CITY EVANGELICAL CHURCH LS11 8LX 2
    RECREATION AVENUE LS11 0AD 1
    MEYNELL APPOARCH LS11 9PZ 2
    NORMANTON GROVE LS11 8LD 1
    Beggars Hill LS11 8JT 27
    Holbeck Cemetery LS11 8QF 1
    Trent Street LS11 9RY 732
    BENNET AND FOUNTAIN LS11 9NP 10
    COMMERCIAL PUB LS11 9DB 23
    SWEET STREET WEST LS11 9DB 6
    Land Off Trent Street LS11 9SP 15
    Commercial Street LS11 9TE 7
    WALTON STREET LS11 9EH 12
    MEADOW ROAD HALFORDS LS11 9BX 20
    Total 7559

  10. why do Holbeck councillors think that the best interests of a few overide the wishes of the majority .
    If you look at the number of Prostitutes this managed scheme is there to give a safe working enviroment to then at the number of Holbeck and Beeston residents whose lives are disrupted by the scheme someting doesnt add up.
    Why are residents children who see used condoms and needles and women walking home from work getting propositioned as happens to a neighbour of mine less important than the interests of the few sex workers .
    The fact that Flats are been built on sweet street and other sites as well as the already built Houses on the edge of Holbeck moor shows that these councillors will not admit they got it wrong and they are right and the residents wrong in their complaints and views .
    According to the Law prostitution is illegal so are these councillors aiding and abetting a criminal activity .
    It seems the art of politics on this matter is lots spin and platitudes from disingenous representives of ourselves ? no wonder people are are
    disinenchanted with these councillors and others who tell us that this idiotic scheme is nessessary .

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