The first quasi-legal red-light district in Leeds, England is up for review after a series of incidents and complaints have cast doubt on whether bringing vice out of the shadows makes it any better of a neighbor.
From 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. in Holbeck, Leeds, sex workers have been “legally” plying their trade since October 2014. The scheme, however, is now scheduled for a hearing at the City Council in April, following the death of a sex worker last year as well as complaints from businesses and neighbors that the district has turned into a dump.
In December 2015 Daria Pionko, a sex worker, fell victim to a “sustained and vicious attack” that left her dead in the “managed area” of the Leeds red-light district.
“In my view the situation was getting out of hand, with a number of high project incidents that can only be described as tragedies and concerns from businesses and residents alike about how the scheme was being operated and managed,” Andrew Carter, lead Conservative councillor at Leeds City Council, told Metro.
Holbeck residents claim that limiting the red-light district carries on well past the 7 p.m. deadline and has brought a significant amount of drug use to the neighborhood as well. Used condoms and drug paraphernalia often litter the street.
“It has been bad for Leeds as a whole – it has been given a bad reputation and is stopping the whole regeneration of the Holbeck area of Leeds. You may as well call [it] Leeds Vice City,” Holbeck resident, David Boyes, 72, told the Mail Online.
The review could order a stronger police presence to the area during both “managed” and nighttime hours to control the situation, particularly the litter on the streets. And in reality, there’s very little to suspect that abandoning the scheme will alleviate any of the reasons why the city tried it in the first place.
Having gone through years of enforcement, which hasn’t achieved the outcome of breaking the cycle of sex work, Sam Miller, the superintendent of the Yorkshire police, told RT UK: “We wanted to do something different which might help us better achieve those outcomes, to be brave and take some risks.”
The review will also have to weigh the benefits and risks to sex workers themselves of bringing the profession into greater light. “It took a murder for the police to come out and check on us, but they do now,” said an anonymous sex worker interviewed by RT UK.