Five years after Crossbow Cannibal Stephen Griffiths began his killing spree in Bradford’s red light district, prostitution is still rife in the area.
Despite repeated police crackdowns and greater working with members of the community to try to eradicate the problem, shops, businesses and residents complain they are still plagued by the issue on a daily basis.
They told the Telegraph & Argus how decent citizens, including children, are confronted face-to-face by the sex trade, and that the heinous crimes of Griffiths have not stopped working girls plying their business on the streets that he stalked.
Susan Rushworth, the first victim of Stephen Griffiths, went missing five years ago this June. The police promised to push prostitution out of Bradford after the Crossbow Cannibal murders.
But it is still blighting the city’s red light area in the Thornton Road and City Road areas and the streets in between, from as early as eight o’clock in the morning.
Shopkeeper Marfat Ullah said he was particularly concerned about the impact on his children.
“I take my children to school at Green Lane and the working girls are standing there on the corners at 8am,” said Mr Ullah.
“I have two children, aged eight and five, and it is embarrassing for me. We got out of the car outside the school one day and there was a condom next to it. I try to ignore what is happening so as not to draw it to the attention of my children.” He said the sex trade was also bringing crime into the area. “I have had a burglary at the shop where a hammer was used to get in. I think it is drug addicts who are linked to the girls who are doing it.
“But my biggest concern is about the condoms. A bin was put in for condoms and needles. That’s not a good idea because children can see it.
“Nothing has changed since Stephen Griffiths. It’s just the same. I don’t know what the answer is, though I would like to see more police patrols at night.”
Brendan McNulty, of City Bathrooms in City Road, said he saw prostitutes on the streets in the middle of the day on a Saturday and as early as 8.30am on a weekday.
He said: “I was once propositioned on our own car park, getting out of my car, at eight in the morning.
“One morning one of the girls was stood on the corner, wearing a very short skirt and with grass stains on her knees. It’s not very pleasant.
“We don’t have any female employees but it would be difficult to employ them around here. It’s always at the back of your mind that you will lose business because of it. But you get used to it, they are just there.
“Things don’t seem to be any different after Stephen Griffiths. The girls are still around. But I am not surprised because nothing changed after the Yorkshire Ripper. That’s the world we live in.
“If they put a few extra police patrols up and down here it might make a difference.”
Residents’ views were shared by local councillors.
Councillor Ishtiaq Ahmed (Ind, Manningham) said: “I think it is still a problem. The police have actually cracked down when they’ve had their operations, and the number of prostitutes declines. But as soon as it has ended it is business as usual.
“During operations it pushes the whole prostitution issue indoors, to designated houses.
On the police’s clampdown claims, Coun Ahmed added: “In the overall grand scheme of things, I don’t think there has been any impact.
“They have not got anywhere near getting rid of it.”
He continued: “The residents of Manningham have to put up with it on a daily basis. Children are risking picking up needles and condoms.
“To have working girls standing on any street and being visible to young children, I don’t think it is appropriate to say the least.
“There needs to be a greater effort by the local authority and police.”
Councillor Nazam Azam (Lab, City) said: “There has been a lot of work put in by all agencies over the past 12 to 18 months.
“There have been a lot more complaints in the past, but recently I have noticed there has been a considerable decrease in the amount of complaints from businesses and residents.
“We need to keep working to eradicate prostitution from the streets of Bradford. It is still an issue. Obviously it was becoming widespread across Manningham and City wards, and we have received petitions in relation to it.
“I do not believe it has been completely eradicated.
“One vulnerable individual out on the streets is one too many. It is not only a police matter - all agencies need to continue their work.”
Coun Azam suggested a priority should be targeting kerb crawlers, and added: “Everything needs to be done to make sure we have no vulnerable individuals on the street that are at potential risk of harm.
“I would definitely commend that the police have done significant steps towards tackling the issue, but there has to be a continuation of this. The number of arrests does not mean we can stop – it is a long road ahead.”
He added: “I believe we can take away the issues from Bradford and not leave any vulnerable individuals at potential risk.
“Lessons have been learnt after what happened with the Crossbow Cannibal. We are not there yet, but we are getting there.”
Councillor Imran Hussain, the deputy leader of Bradford Council and portfolio holder for safer and stronger communities, said: “We have travelled a significant journey since the Crossbow Cannibal, but we can never get complacent.
“We need to continue to tackle not only the issues at hand, but also the contributing issues such as criminality in general and drugs.”
Councillor Ruqayyah Collector (Ind, City) said: “It still exists. From what I understand, there are still drug supply issues in certain areas that help keep the trade active.
“But I do think there has been a reduction from the work that the police have been doing. I think they need to keep it on the agenda and not let it slip away.”
A report on prostitution will be discusssed by the Council’s Bradford West Area Committee at City Hall tomorrow.