#minorsextrafficking | Campaigners slam review into Holbeck sex zone for ‘ignoring trafficking of Romanian women’

Campaigners have strongly criticised a review into the Managed Approach to prostitution in Leeds – saying it has simply ignored several key issues.

The independent review concluded there had been a “significant reduction” in on-street prostitution in Holbeck since the Managed Approach policy was brought in.

The review also found that the approach had reduced the impact on people living in the area.

The review, conducted by the University of Huddersfield’s Applied Criminology and Policing Centre, recommends that  the Managed Approach should continue to operate without any cut backs  or funding reductions, but a “slight change” should be made to the management structure to “ensure true community involvement”.

But local campaigners have accused the review team of focusing on the “perceived benefits” to sex workers in one small area of Leeds.

A spokesman for residents’ group Save Our Eyes said: “The review concentrates on the perceived benefits to the prostituted women of concentrating street prostitution in one small area of Leeds.

“It does not consider the consequences to residents of that, or the potential benefits of removing the zone completely.

“As most prostitution is directed there, so is most kerb crawling. Predators on foot roam the streets looking for women and children.

“Holbeck and Beeston Hill have become areas where non-prostituted women can’t walk the streets without being kerb crawled or approached.”

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Campaigners claim that the managed zone has led to a dramatic rise in kerb crawling.

“Punters now believe it’s legal to approach women by car or on foot in any area of Holbeck and Beeston Hill,” the spokesman added.

“This has caused fear among female residents who are now unable to walk the streets or stand alone at bus stops.

“Some employers in the zone allow female staff to leave work early in winter because it is too dangerous for them to walk to the bus stop at 5.30pm.”

Campaigners say that men frequently travel up to 100 miles to Leeds to seek sex workers in Holbeck “because they believe they won’t be arrested”.

“One prostituted woman told us that she had two regular clients who drove up from Hampshire every two weeks. This ‘destination’ feature of the MA (Managed Area) needs to be reversed.”

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Campaigners have also made the following claims:

* The review appears not to have considered the impact on children who are approached by men on foot.

* The review does not investigate the role of drug addiction as a ‘motivator’ for women to enter prostitution.

* The report does not investigate the issue of modern slavery and the forced prostitution of women – particularly Romanian women – on the streets of Leeds.

Campaigners with Save Our Eyes have now made six suggestions for what should happen next.

They want the managed zone to be removed completely and for the rules – which allow sex workers to solicit for trade – to be applied across the whole city.

They have suggested that streets where councillors live could become mini managed zones.

Campaigners want a total ban on kerb crawling and “punters on foot” to protect the communities of Holbeck and Beeston Hill.

They have also called for the Home Office to “collect and repatriate Romanian women who have been sex trafficked and forced to work the zone.”

“We understand that there are up to 40 affected women who were originally lured here with promises of work in childcare or beauty salons,” said a campaign spokesman.

The conclusions of Save Our Eyes on the review can be found in full here




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