Holbeck managed zone shut down as police stop all street sex work in Leeds

Leeds City Council has confirmed its managed zone, dubbed Britain’s first legal red light district, has been suspended, with no soliciting allowed at any time during the coronavirus lockdown.

Friday, 27th March 2020, 4:36 pm
Updated Friday, 27th March 2020, 4:38 pm

The authority says support will still be available for the health and wellbeing of sex workers, but added police would use legal powers where needed.

Council chiefs say the changes are to fully reflect guidance from government and have been implemented to tackle the spread of coronavirus, not because of any other issues relating to the management of the managed approach.

Coun Debra Coupar, Leeds City Council’s executive member with responsibility for Safer Leeds, said: “The updated measures outlined by government were unequivocal in terms of the steps that everybody needs to take to tackle the spread of coronavirus.

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The council has confirmed the managed zone has been shut down due to the coronavirus pandemic.

“From a managed approach standpoint, we will be utilising every power at our disposal to make sure that these measures are properly adhered to with regarding to street based sex work. Just as importantly, we will also be ensuring that the variety of meaningful support which has been put in place through the initiative to protect the health and welfare of all sex workers continues.

“The coronavirus presents a very real and potentially life threatening health risk, and we welcome that a very high number of sex workers have listened very closely to the guidance, and also advice provided by partners within our partnership and refrained from on-street sex working. A very small number of sex workers now remain and are operating in the area covered by the managed approach.

“Working with partners, we will through direct engagement and if necessary enforcement, use every legal power at our disposal to stop anyone wishing to sell or buy sex. Teams will also be in operation in residential areas to ensure that sex work does not have a detrimental impact on local residents and businesses in so far as we can.

“Further announcements regarding any subsequent strategic or operational changes to the managed approach will be made as appropriate and guided by government guidance regarding coronavirus.”

The managed zone was originally introduced in 2015 and was designed to allow sex workers to operate without reprisal. However, the move divided communities in Leeds and generated national debate.