Safer Leeds denies 'crisis meeting' held over controversial scheme dubbed Britain’s first legal red light zone

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The community safety partnership for Leeds has restated its commitment to what has been dubbed Britain’s first legal red light zone.

Safer Leeds has dispelled reports in a national newspaper today which suggested a “crisis meeting” was being held about the future of a controversial scheme which allows street sex workers to ply their trade without fear of arrest.

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The Managed Approach allows sex workers to operate in parts of Holbeck during certain hours, with the aim of getting more of the women to engage with support services.

But residents have become increasingly vocal about the negative impact on surrounding streets and regular breaches of the scheme’s rules.

A Safer Leeds spokesman told the YEP: “A strategic meeting was held today to discuss the city’s wider approach to prostitution across Leeds, not just the Managed Approach. This meeting is held routinely every two months.

“To be clear it was not a ‘crisis’ meeting arranged to talk about the cessation of the Managed Approach, and this specific issue was not raised or discussed today.”

Read more: Leeds residents on life near ‘legal’ red light zone

He said the organisation regularly met with a wide range of partners and stakeholders – including members of the Holbeck Reference Group set up to assess the impact of the Managed Approach – as part of its ongoing commitment.

The meeting of the Prostitution Strategic Group, which was held at Merrion House, brought together representatives from public health, Safer Leeds, West Yorkshire Police, council and NHS services, the UK Border Agency and charities including Basis Yorkshire and the Joanna Project.

It is understood to have focused on the purpose and direction of the group and how it can best respond to all prostitution issues in the city.

Read more: ‘My aim is to make life on Leeds streets safer’