Leeds red light zone closure: Kerb-crawlers 'not welcome' in Holbeck warns police commander

The most senior police officer in Leeds has a message for kerb-crawlers: "You are not welcome in Holbeck".

It follows an announcement from Leeds City Council that it planned to scarp its controversial Managed Approach to on-street sex work in Holbeck in the coming weeks.

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The move means prostitution and soliciting will effectively be re-criminalised in an area of the city where it was previously permitted within certain hours.

Chief Superintendent Damien Miller, Leeds District Commander, says kerb-crawlers are not welcome in Holbeck. Picture: Jonathan Gawthorpe

Police and council officers have said those seeking to solicit prostitutes will be targeted.

When asked what his message was to men visiting the area to buy sex, Chief Superintendent Damien Miller, Leeds District Commander, said: "They are not welcome within Holbeck if they are there for the purposes of kerb-crawling.

"The dedicated police resource will still take action against them, take them down a conditional cautioning route or take them to court if it is felt they are serial offenders.

"We are well aware that there is the potential for the area, and we will monitor the situation to prevent it from moving into another area, and taking action against those people who do."

The Managed Approach, which applies to a non-residential area of Holbeck, was first introduced in 2014. It allows street sex workers to ply for trade without fear of arrest within agreed hours.

It had been introduced with the intention of increasing public safety and the level of support received by women in sex work. But many people living nearby say it has brought in a whole raft of new antisocial behaviour problems to residential areas.

Speaking at a media briefing, a senior council officer said that the number of sex workers had decreased since the zone was introduced.

Paul Money, who heads up the Safer Leeds partnership, was then asked about allegations of women being trafficked into the area and whether this could increase the number of sex workers in the area in future.

He said: "We have excellent intelligence about what is going on in the area. We know all the women involved in on-street sex work.

"Whilst we have historically had issues about trafficked women working in the area, at this moment in time there isn't intelligence to support that assertion.

"At the minute, we don't have women who are being trafficked, for instance, from Eastern European countries, which we have seen previously."