Leeds Council are under pressure to “rethink” their red light district, where prostitution is legal between 8pm and 6am seven days a week.
Concerned residents say that the “managed zone” in Holbeck – which has permitted kerb crawling and soliciting for sex since October 2014 – has exacerbated many of the problems surrounding prostitution.
Now teachers at a nearby school and local residents report used condoms and needles being discarded in local parks and on school grounds.
Safer Leeds – a partnership between the police and Leeds Council – set up the designated zone where police officers would turn a blind eye to prostitution, claiming it would be safer for prostitutes.
“misplaced liberalism has led local authorities to decriminalise prostitution”Julie Bindel
But a senior police officer says it has done nothing of the sort, and has instead been “a disaster from day one.
“Other criminals came into the area quick as a flash. Drug dealers, pimps, even traffickers that brought the women from Romania.
“Loads of illegal immigrants, and complaint after complaint from people that worked and lived nearby.”
The officer added: “It was obvious we couldn’t contain it in the zone. The women were given carte blanche and it was like there was a total amnesty on any of the scumbags that were buying and selling the girls.
“If we thought we had complaints from the public before, that paled in comparison after they set up the zone.
“We’ve had rapes, a murder, loads of women being beaten up, massive health risk to kids and others because of the condoms and needles and everyone’s forgotten about the state the girls are in.”
Campaigner Julie Bindel said she had visited red light districts all around the world, where “well meaning but misplaced liberalism has led local authorities to decriminalise prostitution”.
She explained: “If you legalise and celebrate prostitution, the argument goes, you give prostitutes the ‘agency’ they require to lead healthy lives.”
“For every happy prostitute (if one really exists) there are thousands for whom life is sordid and dangerous”, she added.
Bindel concluded that while some say it is judgemental to ask a woman if she wishes to exit prostitution, “every one of the many women in prostitution I have interviewed over the years has been desperate to get out”.