‘Managed area’ for sex workers in Leeds to be made permanent

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A ‘managed area’ for sex work is to continue indefinitely after being trialed for over a year. The scheme, the first of its kind in the country, has been running provisionally in Holbeck, Leeds since October 2014.

Under the managed area sex workers can work without being stopped by police between 7pm and 7am as long as they adhere to certain rules, and a three strike policy is in place to ensure these rules are adhered to.

Although not all residents have welcomed the scheme, the council reports that complaints surrounding sex work in the area have dropped since the scheme was introduced. The police have also noted an improved relationship with sex workers, noting that women are more likely to communicate with officers and report crimes committed against them.

Leeds University Sociology Professor Dr Teela Sanders evaluated the scheme and judged it to be a success adding that, “Lots of other police forces and agencies have expressed an interest in transferring and adapting the managed area in other parts of the country,”.

This comes after 21 year old sex worker Daria Pionko was murdered whilst working in the managed area on the 23rd December last year, raising concerns about the safety of managed areas like this one. Leeds City Councillor Mark Dobson called Pionko’s death a ‘tragedy’, going on to explain that “The managed area isn’t a universal cure-all. Sex work remains – as last month proved – an extremely dangerous and fraught occupation. But it’s incumbent on us to make it as safe as possible.”

Rachel King

 

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