UK’s first official red light district is to end after seven years

Britain’s first official red light district – which brought misery to nearby residents – is being scrapped after seven years.

The controversial scheme in Holbeck, Leeds, was introduced by a Labour council to improve sex worker safety. 

It is to end after the number of prostitutes and customers declined in the pandemic. 

Since 2014 sex workers have been allowed to operate in a ‘managed’ zone at night without arrests being made for loitering, soliciting or kerb-crawling.

Britain's first official red light district (pictured) in Holbeck, Leeds, is being scrapped after seven years. It was introduced by a Labour council to improve sex worker safety

Britain's first official red light district (pictured) in Holbeck, Leeds, is being scrapped after seven years. It was introduced by a Labour council to improve sex worker safety

Britain’s first official red light district (pictured) in Holbeck, Leeds, is being scrapped after seven years. It was introduced by a Labour council to improve sex worker safety

Campaigners claimed the scheme, which cost around £200,000 a year, increased sex assaults and residents said the area was being blighted with incidents such as school pupils being propositioned and people having sex in gardens in daylight.

Leeds council insisted the Managed Approach area was a success and rejected calls to scrap it. 

But the start of the pandemic last year forced it to be suspended and the scheme is now set to be ended by a council executive vote next week.

Debra Coupar, council deputy leader, said: ‘No soliciting offences will be allowed to take place at any time in the area.’

A joint statement from Save Our Eyes and Voice of Holbeck residents groups said they were delighted with the decision. 

It said the scheme, started in good faith, had ‘led to a huge detrimental impact on the residents living nearby, whose streets were taken over by prostitution and kerb crawling’. 

The start of the pandemic forced the controversial scheme to be suspended and it is now set to be ended by a council executive vote next week. Pictured: Sex worker in Holbeck

The start of the pandemic forced the controversial scheme to be suspended and it is now set to be ended by a council executive vote next week. Pictured: Sex worker in Holbeck

The start of the pandemic forced the controversial scheme to be suspended and it is now set to be ended by a council executive vote next week. Pictured: Sex worker in Holbeck

The campaigners said Covid-19 had proved ‘it is safe and effective’ to offer sex workers a way out ‘while clamping down on demand by targeting the men who prey on them’.

They went on: ‘In recent weeks activity has increased again and this must be tackled.

‘Men who prey on vulnerable women in street prostitution are no longer welcome or tolerated in Holbeck. We want to see women freed from their suffering, at the same time residents’ lives will be improved too.’

Chief Superintendent Damien Miller, of West Yorkshire Police, said the ‘partnership’ approach in helping sex workers ‘stop on-street sex work’ would continue and officers would target kerb crawlers who would no longer have any legal protection.

He urged people to report offences ‘at the earliest opportunity’.

Existing CCTV monitoring would continue along with patrols in the area and a local residents police hotline.

Link hienalouca.com

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