Residents in Leeds have taken action after their community became a red light district.
The inner city area of Holbeck, once famed for its spa waters in the 18th century, is now becoming notorious for the amount of sex workers walking the streets, near local schools, with their violent pimps and drug dealers in close attendance.
The scantily-clad sex workers don’t just come out at night, they also operate in broad daylight, and unfortunately for the people who live in the neighbourhood, business is booming.
And things have got so bad that some people who live there are too afraid to go out at night.
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But locals fed up with their once respectable area becoming a vice den have hit back by posting pictures of kerb crawlers and their car registration numbers on a community Facebook group, called ‘Save Our Eyes’.
Save Our Eyes has been campaigning against the sex workers and it is they who publish the kerb crawlers’ pictures and car registration numbers
The most prolific offenders receive the ‘Punter of the Week’ moniker and someone posted on the site: “It’s the hottest prize in Leeds and can be collected from reception at Elland Road police station.”
The latest ‘winner’ shows a scantily-lad clad woman leaning up against the passenger door of a Volkswagen Golf, with its reg plate on full view.
A spokeswoman for the local group told the Mail: “We had no choice. The council and the police were doing nothing.
“We have sympathy for the women, many of whom are victims of terrible exploitation and abuse.
“But it’s the clients – the punters – who are principally causing the problem. It has got out of hand and we need to take some action.”
The latest post has included the registration, make and colour of the car – a blue Volkswagen. Retired transport executive Brian Kitchen added: “These men seem to be well-off, businessman-types.
“I know for a fact that many of them are supposedly happily married family men with wives and children at home. They get some sort of adrenaline rush out of the danger of buying sex.”
Locals say that the problem became more prevalent after the city council scrapped an experimental scheme that decriminalised prostitution in a section of the town known as the ‘Managed Approach’ zone, where the workers were supposed to be restricted to a certain area.
Highly controversial, it was introduced in 2014 and cost the council £200,000. And it was regarded as Britain’s first legalised red light district.
Many residents were against it and they now argue that Holbeck has become a magnet for sex workers – most of which tend to come from Eastern Europe – because of the council’s scheme, while they also say that local women are now forever being propositioned by a multitude of men who come to the area looking for sex.
Another local Dave Kelly fears for his 16-year-old daughter’s safety and says she has to be careful what to wear when she goes out.
He told the Mail: “He is reluctant to go to the shops wearing a summer dress or a pair of shorts.
“Many of us are angry about is what has happened to the area in which we grew up, an area whose demographics have changed so much, so quickly.
‘It is appalling what has happened to this area. But I don’t blame the girls themselves — they are often on drugs, they are desperate for money, sometimes they have been trafficked and they live in fear of the pimps.”