Protests continue against Holbeck Managed Approach in Leeds

Protests against the Leeds City Council's controversial approach to managing Leeds' red light district have continued this week.

By Joe Cooper
Tuesday, 15th September 2020, 6:00 am

Women from the Leeds ReSisters group pinned a banner stating their opposition to the Managed Approach (MA) to a bridge over Domestic Road in Holbeck.

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The banner against the Managed Approach in place in Holbeck.

The banner read: "Women are not for sale".

A recent independent review by academics at the University of Huddersfield said the approach should remain but continue to evolve.

But the Leeds ReSisters claim the review was a "whitewash", and it was also criticised by the Save Our Eyes campaign group.

They are carrying out a series of protests this month to state their continued opposition to the MA.

The group favour the The Nordic Model approach to prostitution, where the police go after the purchasers of sex by handing out fines or prison sentences to punters, and leave the sex workers in peace.

Leeds ReSisters are demanding: "Their council recognise prostitution as violence against women; provide appropriate exit services for women in prostitution; consider their public sector equality duty, and assess the equalities impact of the Managed Approach on women and children in Leeds."

Responding the to the start of the protests this month, councillor Debra Coupar, Leeds City Council’s executive member with responsibility for Safer Leeds, said: "We fully recognise that there continues to be strong feelings from those in favour and not in favour of the Managed Approach and that there are residents and groups with concerns regarding its negative impact on their lives and on Holbeck as a whole.

"This cannot and will not be ignored by us, and we continue to be committed with our partners through the Safer Leeds partnership to listening closely to the views of local residents, the community of Holbeck regarding the Managed Approach.

“It was through this type of engagement with the local community that we requested an Independent Review be undertaken into the scheme. The review which findings were published in July of this year found that the Managed Approach was able to deal at least as positively if not more so with problems associated with on-street sex working than any other policing approaches in the UK. All work undertaken must be consistent with UK law, and not the laws and models of other countries.

"This means for example as highlighted in the review, that all elements of other strategies, such as the Nordic Model, cannot currently be fully implemented in the UK without a change in legislation. Secondly the review also highlighted that the Managed Approach was viewed as an essential factor in better engaging with street sex workers to improve their safety and health.

"These recommendations relate to two key critical parts of our work and it is positive that progress has been made in both of these important areas. Whilst welcoming these findings, it would at the same time be wrong not to acknowledge other elements of the report that were not as positive, and we are continuing to work extremely hard to make improvements and changes where appropriate to improve our day-to-day operational approach.

“Enforcement remains an important element of our work and in operation as part of the scheme are a designated four person policing team in the area, Safer Leeds patrols and CCTV. The Managed Approach is a strategy consistent with and informed by National Policing Sex Work Guidance as advocated by the National Police Chief’s Council.”


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