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Children exposed to prostitution and drugs in Britain's first red light district

Commercial Sexual Exploitation
3 February 2021
Prostitution 28p429 What you can do 0 25

A new report has highlighted the failure of Britain's first red-light district, with children being exposed to prostitution and drug abuse.

Based on the views of 500 residents, the report found the district made them feel unsafe and that it normalised street prostitution in the community.

Local children were propositioned by men seeking sex or by prostitutes offering their services, according to the Telegraph.

One resident in the report said:

"Problems included car crashes, rapes, abusive neighbours, gangs on the streets, visible violence and issues associated with drinking and drug taking such as vomiting in the streets and littered needles."
Holdbeck resident

Another commented:

"It teaches kids that people are consumable commodities it is a bad reflection for society. Horrific for self-worth, people should be taught that they matter.”
Holbeck resident

Leeds red light district

The district was launched in 2014 as part of the Safer Leeds partnership and costs the taxpayer approximately £200,000 a year.

The idea was that the police would not enforce the current offences of soliciting (both for the sale and purchase of sex or ‘kerb crawling’) between 8pm and 6am each day.

This model, also referred to as decriminalisation, claims to help regulate prostitution in order to combat trafficking, violence against women and high rates of sexual diseases such as HIV. However, in practise this has not proven to be the case. On those counts it has decisively failed.

Instead of protecting those in prostitution, the scheme has attracted international criminal gangs into the area who have profited by trafficking women and girls. Complaints of rapes and sexual assaults have doubled in the area and rates of sexually transmitted diseases are on the rise, as is the prevalence of HIV.

Local police are among the fierce critics of the scheme, with a senior police officer telling The Telegraph: “it was a disaster from day one… other criminals came into the area as quick as a flash. Drug dealers, pimps, even traffickers that brought the women from Romania.”

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