25 09 19

Britain’s first official red light district has been branded a failure by one of its key architects amid speculation that the controversial scheme maybe on the brink of collapse.The local politician who helped mastermind the zone in Leeds admitted the women working the streets were still at risk of violence and neighbouring residents had seen a surge in sex and drug-taking in their streets, parks and woods, sometimes in full view of children. Kerb-crawling men are meanwhile evading prosecution from the police’s “hands-off” approach.A crisis meeting to be held between residents and the council, police and health chiefs on Tuesday will hear strong calls for the ending of the scheme. “Our argument is that it’s not appropriate to have girls bought and sold on our streets in 2018,” said Claire Bentley-Smith, a resident.Mark Dobson, the executive councillor who helped set up the zone, called for a major overhaul:  “Unless the scheme is seen to work, it will fail and it is failing.”Former international development secretary Hillary Benn, the local MP, has also said the scheme “is not working in its own terms” and has called for a “rethink.” “It was 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… the women were given carte blanche and it was like there was a total amnesty on any of the scumbags buying and selling the girls,” added the officer.Leeds managed zone was created in October 2014 in the largely industrial district of Holbeck, with men free to kerb crawl for prostitutes in the area between 8pm and 6am. Sex in public, however, remained an offence against public decency.As a result, residents said it had turned into a “meet-and-greet” area with the prostitutes, 90 per cent of whom are drug addicts, and their clients decamping to neighbouring residential streets, parks and woodland to have sex, leaving behind condoms and syringes that have been found by children.The ward which includes the neighbouring residential area of Beeston as well as Holbeck has seen a doubling in reports of rapes and sexual assaults although council say this is result of increased reporting by the women. Local resident Claire Bentley-Smith set about taking action after her local primary school became scene to condoms, needles and soiled tissues discarded by prostitutesCredit:Charlotte Graham In contrast, A Nordic-style approach in Ipswich following the murder of five prostitutes in 2006 saw a ban on kerb-crawling clear the streets with nearly all of the women still out of prostitution, Brian Tobin, of the Iceni charity, told The Telegraph.  An independent evaluation by the University of East Anglia judged it a “clear and sustained success” in tackling kerb crawling and helping the women. Superintendent Kerry Cutler said they enacted a multi-agency approach to get women off the street “straight away” if they received any alerts about prostitutes, allied to zero tolerance of kerb crawling.By contrast, figures obtained by The Telegraph show the trade in prostitutes in Germany doubled in value to euros 14.6bn after legalisation in 2002, fuelled by an influx of migrants from Eastern Europe. Chloe, 23, a prostitute since she was 16 who was being “pimped” in Holbeck by her drug-dealing boyfriend told The Telegraph: “I don’t know why people think the zone would ever work. All it meant was the dirty bastards came there knowing that they could do anything they wanted to us and loads of men would come to gawp at us and laugh. That’s the bit I hated the most.”Rosa, 26, a prostitute since she was 18, said she was regularly asked for unprotected sex and was threatened with gang rape in front of a community police officer. The zone meant the men were “more cocky than usual because they don’t get arrested and still treat women like dirt,” she said.Last week a prostitute was run down by a client after a row over payment.Among complaints are:A prostitute injecting drugs into her groin in a car in a residential street in full view of a mother of a 14 year old and a drugged prostitute with no shoes on staggering into traffic on a snowy winter’s morning as mothers did their school runs.Businessman Ian Staines who was forced to close for a day just before Christmas at a cost of £10,000 in lost work after a prostitute was caught having sex against the wall of his firm’s building and claimed she had been raped, leading to the area being sealed off. He says he is calling the police three times a week to report breaches of the time limits on kerb crawling.Matthew Sullivan, a father of four who discovered his local wood carpeted with almost 100 discarded needles after seeing a punter disappear in to the trees to have sex. He also recounts a prostitute returning to have sex four times in the space of 12 hours with four different men on a park bench, in a car and in the woods behind his house.A spokesman for Safer Leeds said creation of the zone had led to an increase in reporting of crimes – rising from 7 per cent to 50 per cent reported to the National Ugly Mugs scheme as a result of which there had been “landmark” convictions of people who would otherwise have continued to offend. The data on offences also covered Beeston, which was not part of the managed area, he added. In Leeds, a senior police officer told The Telegraph the force had “given up” and was failing to find a way out of prostitution for the girls who are “dying because of being abused, the drugs and the booze while the punters go home to their wives to watch the football.” Local resident Claire Bentley-Smith He said it had made changes in response to residents’ complaints included a dedicated policing team and increased spending on cleaning. The scheme was under continuous review to meet its aims of finding a long-term solution afters of previous initiatives. “Further steps will be taken and further options considered as appropriate,” he said. Syphilis rates in the city have doubled since 2014, gonorrhoea has marginally increased and chlamydia among 15-24 year olds is up by 30 per cent, and is almost 75 per cent higher than the national rate, according to Public Health England. The prevalence of HIV has risen slightly although new diagnoses are down in line with the national trend. The red light district, launched in 2014, is at the heart of a national and international debate over the most effective way of regulating prostitution to combat trafficking, violence against women and high rates of sexual diseases including HIV. Organisations including Amnesty International, UNAIDS and the medical journal The Lancet called for decriminalisation of prostitution after a 2014 Lancet paper claimed it could slash HIV global rates by up to 46 per cent. However, the laissez faire model on which the forecast was based has been criticised for failing to factor in the possibility that demand for prostitution and trafficked women and girls would expand if the legislative lid was lifted.A Telegraph investigation in locations including Leeds, Bangladesh, Germany and Holland suggests the “hands-off” approach is unwinding fast, creating more harm than it prevents.It reflects a shift politically where a growing number of Tory and Labour MPs are pushing for the “Nordic model” of regulation to be introduced in Britain under which the buying of sex is made illegal while prostitutes are helped to escape the sex trade.The policy is already in place in countries including Ireland, Northern Ireland and France. Proponents say it reduces prostitution and cuts people trafficking as well as helping prostitutes exit the trade. [They] came there knowing they could do anything they wanted to usChloe, 23 As a result, Germany is introducing a new law enforcing mandatory health checks on prostitutes to combat rises in sexual diseases and bans on brothels advertising sex without a condom and on flat rate deals where men pay a fixed sum to have sex with as many women as they want in a day.Holland is also facing a backlash after trafficking trials, the first national protest against the exploitation of women in prostitution, rising gonorrhoea rates among prostitutes linked to unprotected oral sex and moves to introduce a new law to make it illegal to knowingly have sex with a trafficked woman.Additional reporting by Rory HannaProtect yourself and your family by learning more about Global Health Security  Want the best of The Telegraph direct to your email and WhatsApp? Sign up to our free twice-daily  Front Page newsletter and new  audio briefings. Health experts say there has been a rise in sexual disease rates due to brothels actively advertising unprotected sex to punters. One of the biggest brothel owners is currently on trial for trafficking, exploitation of prostitutes, pimping and fraud.

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