Residents of what was once Britain’s first legal red-light district are now shaming street crawlers in a bid to reclaim their broken community.
Sex trafficking lobbyists persuaded authorities in 2016 to turn a blind eye to the sex industry and create a safe haven for men prowling the streets looking for women.
In the area in Holbeck, Leeds, West Yorkshire, police no longer issued warnings or arrests for loitering, soliciting or breaching curbs after 7pm.
But the plan was a humiliating failure and now families living there say they have been abandoned by authorities.
They’ve gotten into the act themselves, naming curb crawlers by photographing their cars and license plates and publishing them online.
And they’ve also created a regular punter of the week award to identify the worst offenders.
One of the prostitutes who had worked in the Holbeck red-light district in Leeds
Images of the cars and drivers are posted on Facebook by disgruntled Leeds families
Families in the area name and shame motorists caught talking to prostitutes in the area
The street caterpillars often harass local women and schoolgirls, mistaking them for sex workers.
Now that the truce between police and prostitutes is over, drug-addicted street prostitutes no longer see the need to stay out of residential areas – even robbing residents and gamblers alike.
A female resident said she was attacked while visiting the local AFC restaurant.
She said, ‘I ordered my kebab. I was really hungry, I had a long shift at work.
“There’s a working girl sitting there eating her dinner. I took a 10 out of my pocket to pay for my food and before I knew what was happening she snatched it from my hand and raced out onto the road.
Holbeck, which is part of Leeds, West Yorkshire, and the site of the abandoned red-light district
Controversial plan: Officers turned a blind eye to shady activity in this part of town as long as it took place between 7 p.m. and 7 a.m.
A prostitute waits for a client on the streets of Holbeck, the UK’s only ‘managed’ zone for prostitution on November 14, 2018 in Leeds when the zone was in operation
I reported it, but of course I can’t get my money back. I just want people to be warned it’s so bad when the working girls rob the public.”
The assailant was about 5ft 7in tall, slim, with dark brown hair in a bun on top of her head, wearing a blue jacket, black leggings and sneakers. She would also be deaf.
The ‘managed prostitution area’ in Holbeck was demolished in 2021 after years of controversy and the murder of at least one of the sex workers.
But locals say the perverts lured to the area by the prospect of a rampant sex trade still haunt the district, endangering all women.
They now say they have to live with the consequences of the disastrously contrived social interference that has made things worse rather than better.
As the sex workers can no longer legally practice their trade on selected streets between 7pm and 7am, they have invaded nearby residential areas and made families’ lives a misery.
The zone, pictured in 2018, was administered by the City of Leeds, for an experiment in the decriminalization of the red-light district
Holbeck in Leeds had been a decriminalized red-light district as part of an experiment there
A man came out to empty his recycling and found a street walker with a curb behind his garbage can.
Sex workers have also been seen shooting drugs into a phone booth passed by children on their way to school.
Local residents say police have fobbed the community off with a so-called hotline to report sex workers and curb-seekers.
They say that by the time the police show up, sex workers and clients are already gone. Over the Christmas period, the hotline was out of service and residents were stuck on the non-emergency 101 number.
In a statement on their community’s Facebook page, families said, “We live with the heritage of the zone.
‘Every day, residents and their children witness soliciting, sexual acts and find used condoms on the street.
“This is coupled with the relentless curb-seekers and men who roam the streets on foot looking for women to buy sex with.
‘The zone made the residents of Holbeck much more unsafe because it lured predatory men from a wide area to Holbeck looking for sex.
‘This was weighed against a negligible and unproven benefit to the prostitutes.
“We previously recommended advertising the closure nationally as predators were drawn to it from all over the UK.
“We need to ensure that predatory men in Holbeck are treated in the same way as in other parts of Leeds.”