New hotline for Leeds red light issues

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A DEDICATED phoneline has been set up for people wanting to report problems linked to the controversial “managed zone” for prostitution in Leeds.

Sex workers are currently allowed to ply their trade in a designated area of Holbeck without fear of arrest between the hours of 7pm and 7am.

But the policy was recently placed under review following an upsurge in opposition from some local businesses.

And now the new 07534 309568 number has been introduced to make it easier for people to let the authorities know about breaches of the managed approach.

Complaints will be dealt with by police community support officers who have first-hand knowledge of the area.

The phoneline team say calls should only relate to soliciting and kerb-crawling in residential streets.

People are also being reminded that they should still dial 999 in the event of an emergency.

The managed area was established in October 2014 following concerns that years of law enforcement had failed to address the issue of prostitution. It was made permanent after a 12-month pilot, with supporters saying complaints had fallen and levels of trust between sex workers and the authorities had dramatically improved.

However, publicity surrounding the scheme – fuelled by the death of sex worker Daria Pionko in December – led to fierce debate about its rights and wrongs. Officials are now due to meet next month to discuss the future of the policy.

As previously reported by the Yorkshire Evening Post, figures who have voiced worries about the managed area include Leeds Central’s Labour MP Hilary Benn and Coun Andrew Carter, leader of the Conservative opposition group on Leeds City Council.

Mr Benn said it did not seem as though the policy’s hours and boundaries were being properly enforced.