One aspect of life in the parish is the effect the Managed Approach has on the lives of residents.
Read below for a full explanation.
Please report concerns relating to sex-working to the dedicated number: 07534 309568
Please report all crimes or other concerns to the Police via 101, online, or 999 in an emergency (ongoing active crime)
If you need to report sex-related litter or drug litter either use the council’s online reporting form or use Save our Eyes Facebook page to communicated with the Council’s cleansing team. Please be aware: the Save our Eyes Facebook group is not a part of St Luke’s Church and contains adult and sex-related conversations. You also have to request to join the group.
What is the ‘managed approach’?
The ‘managed approach’ allows street sex workers to ply for trade without fear of arrest, in a particular area of Leeds within agreed hours. It aims to:
- Reduce the problems caused by street prostitution to residents and businesses
- Better engage with street sex workers to improve their safety and health, with a view to enabling them to exit this way of life
- Reduce the prevalence of street sex working in Leeds
When did it begin?
The scheme was introduced as a 12-month pilot back in October 2014 by the community safety partnership Safer Leeds – a group which includes Leeds City Council and West Yorkshire Police.
It attracted national media attention following the murder of sex worker Daria Pionko in December 2015. Originally from Poland, the 23-year-old lived in Leeds with her boyfriend and was a sex worker in the Holbeck area of the city.
How does it work?
The rules of the ‘managed approach’ are kept under review, with the current rules being:
- No offences will be tolerated at any time within residential areas
- No offences will be tolerated between 6am and 8pm
- No offences will be tolerated outside businesses which are operating
- Drug use, trafficking, organised crime and coercion will at no time be tolerated
- Crime, public order and anti-social behaviour will not be tolerated
- Indecency will not be tolerated at any time
When it began, Safer Leeds said a ‘three strikes’ policy meant rule-breakers would get a warning for a first breach, a caution for a second and be arrested for a third infringement.
Four police officers and PCOS were also assigned to a ‘dedicated team’ to oversee the sex workers in the Holbeck area from December 2017.
Why was it introduced?
The city’s unofficial red light district had moved to the area around Water Lane over the years, and was creating problems for people living in Holbeck as it crept further into nearby residential areas.
Various approaches focused mainly on enforcement – either against sex workers or their clients – had been tried over the years, but had failed to make any significant impact on the level of street sex work in the city.
Those in favour of the ‘managed approach’ say it is helping support services and charities to engage with the often vulnerable women involved in sex work and has increased the reporting and successful prosecution of crimes committed against sex workers.
What support is available to street sex workers?
The charity Basis Yorkshire supports sex workers with what are described as “highly complex needs and chaotic lives”.
Further support is given by the city’s commissioned sexual health service, Housing Leeds and West Yorkshire Police’s designated sex worker liaison police officer.
Isn’t it just a legal red light zone?
Safer Leeds says it is “categorically not a legal red light zone” and is actually about managing and lessening the impact of existing activity, not introducing something new. It stresses that the strategy and partners involved do not have the power to change the law, nor to legalise offences related to sex work.
What do people living nearby think?
Following the murder of Daria Pionko, a review was conducted into the future of the ‘managed approach’. Its findings were published in July 2016 when it was announced that the scheme would continue but with some small changes to the way it was run.
A third of residents and businesses who responded back then wanted to see it scrapped, but the majority thought it should continue in some form.
However, complaints from residents have steadily increased leading to a heated and fractious Residents’ meeting in October 2017. In response to the difference between reports submitted in council meetings/chambers, and the expressions of anger and frustration from residents, Cllr Debra Coupar (Deputy Leader of Leeds City Council and Executive Member for Communities) committed to better engagement with the community.
From this, a small Reference Group was formed, which initially included St Luke’s Primary School, St Luke’s Church, Save our Eyes and Holbeck Elderly Aid.
Who are the Voice of Holbeck?
The Reference group continued to work with the council, police and Safer Leeds from October 2017 until now. The group renamed itself The Voice of Holbeck in 2018. The group has an explicit aim of ending street based prostitution in Leeds. However, bringing about this end is not straightforward. But it is hoped that the process will empower the voices of Holbeck and Beeston community members.
One of the Voice of Holbeck’s main projects is Listening Well.
The Voice of Holbeck also sits on the operational (bronze) group that helps manage the approach. We receive a monthly update from the council about progress with the approach. If you would like to receive a copy of this please ask to be placed on a mailing list, either on a Sunday or message the office.
What is Listening Well?
Listening Well is a community led, community driven listening campaign on community safety and the managed approach in Holbeck. These events involve two rounds of table conversations, sharing stories and ideas related to community safety and the managed approach. Volunteer notetakers take notes during the table conversations to ensure there is a record of the testimony and ideas shared. The methodology being used by Voice of Holbeck members in running Listening Events is community organising, a methodology designed to ensure deep listening, increase the power of the community to work together for the common good and generate action from decision makers.
The strategic leads responsible for the managed approach and community safety in Holbeck, Cllr Debra Coupar, James Rogers (Director of Communities and Environment), District Commander Steve Cotter (West Yorkshire Police) and Paul Money (Head of Safer Leeds) have committed themselves and their organisations to the Listening Well campaign. At the Listening Well launch in February 2019, the strategic leads agreed to attend all Listening Well events and to act on the results of Listening Well in regards to policy and resource.
At the end of the Listening process, there will be a public event where the Voice of Holbeck will publish the Listening Well report. This will contain the key findings from Listening Well and the recommendations for ways forward on the issues of community safety and the managed approach. The event will provide the Voice of Holbeck with the opportunity, in partnership with Safer Leeds and other key stakeholders, to make public the changes that will be made in response to the campaign.
What is the Independent Review
In November 2018, the council debated the managed approach. There were strong calls for the council to prove it can either make the managed approach’ work or stop it all together. During the debate, deputy council leader Debra Coupar said she agreed that the council should conduct another review but this should only happen once ‘enhanced activity’ now planned had been given time to take effect. These enhanced measures were announced in December 2018, which included the continuation of a dedicated policing team for the approach.
This dedicated team can be contacted on a dedicated telephone which they keep with them. This enables residents to report on breaches of the approach’s rules and any anti-social behaviour involving sex-related activities. You can reach the dedicated phone on 07534 309568
When will the review happen?
The Independent review is now under way. A team of academics were appointed from Huddersfield University in July 2019. Field work (i.e. research in the community) is due for completion in December 2019. The team will then review other reports and research from not only the UK but globally on the issue of managing street-based sex work. In Spring 2020 we can expect their report.
The Independent review have committed to interviewing 300 residents.
Safer Leeds Monthly ReportsManaged Approach 4 weekly report 14.08.19 - 10.09.19 (1)