CRIME and social work experts at the University of Huddersfield have been appointed to carry out an Independent Review into the city’s Managed Approach scheme.

This follows Leeds City Council, in May of this year, welcoming tenders from organisations interested in undertaking the Independent Review, which were subsequently subject to a detailed assessment and evaluation criteria. 

As part of the process, consultation was undertaken with local community group, Voice of Holbeck, and women who work or have worked within the Managed Approach. 

It is expected that the Independent Review, undertaken by academics at the University’s Applied Criminology and Policing Centre, will commence imminently.  The review is scheduled to conclude in Spring 2020. 

The Independent Review forms part of a commitment made by the Safer Leeds partnership to residents, businesses and stakeholders, that such an assessment would take place, once strategic and operational changes made late last year to the scheme were given time to settle in. 

The main purposes of the Managed Approach are to “safeguard vulnerable women workers in the street sex trade; to support them in tackling the complex problems they face transitioning away from selling sex on street and to simultaneously work to reduce the impact of on-street sex work selling on the local community”.

Safer Leeds Independent Review

The University’s Applied Criminology and Policing Centre is directed by Professor Jason Roach, who said that he and his colleagues would approach the project without any preconceptions.

“We will be looking at whether this managed approach has had any positive effect and finding out what people on the ground think,” said Professor Roach.  He and his colleagues will begin with an analysis of crime data and will then carry out surveys and conduct interviews in the Holbeck area, which has some 2,500 residents and 100 businesses.

Focus groups will be formed comprising residents, business people, the police and sex workers.

The University team will also be interviewing sex workers to gauge their experiences of the zone.  “It will be a holistic, multi-faceted approach,” said Professor Roach.

He will be joined by his colleagues Professor Rachel Armitage, Professor Barry Percy-Smith, Dr Michelle Rogerson, Dr Carla Reeves, Dr Kate WoodKris Christmann and Dr Ashley Cartwright.

Cllr Debra Coupar, Leeds City Council’s executive member with responsibility for Safer Leeds, said:  “We made a firm commitment to local residents and all stakeholders that an Independent Review of the Managed Approach would take place once a number of operational and strategic changes to the scheme were given the appropriate time to bed in.

“I fully welcome that University of Huddersfield has now been appointed to oversee the Independent Review and work is due to begin imminently.  From our perspective, this is an important and significant piece of work.  We are committed to ensuring it is carried out in a manner that inspires real confidence for both residents and all stakeholders, and that is, it is being done appropriately and in a truly independent way.  We made a pledge to work with the local community on this issue, and continue to welcome their input.”

More information on the changes implemented in the Managed Approach can be found online.