Fears of vigilante action against street sex trade prompted police to act

Bradford Telegraph and Argus: Inspector Richard Baildon Inspector Richard Baildon

Police have had to take steps to stop prostitution returning to Bradford’s once notorious Lumb Lane after fears of vigilante action.

Street sex workers had upset residents and businesses by moving from the Thornton Road area to Lumb Lane to ply their trade.

There were fears of vigilante action and at one stage groups of young men were seen walking round the streets to deter prostitution.

But the problem appears to be have been curbed after police joined forces with probation, Bradford Council and residents and businesses to address the issue through a phased approach involving overt enforcement; support for working women; intelligence gathering and a new method of dealing with kerbcrawlers.

Since September there have been 53 arrests in the crackdown, including 28 for street prostitution and 15 brothel arrests. In that time eight brothels have been raided and more than 50 Anti-Social Behaviour Contracts issued to kerbcrawlers.

Seven crimes were reported against women involved in prostitution, including rape and sexual assault, assault, and robbery, with 34 different women seen involved in street prostitution in the red light area of the city.

A report by the Prostitution Strategic Partnership, to be discussed at a Bradford Council committee meeting tomorrow, reveals that an increase in prostitution in the Lumb Lane area was reported to police in January last year, residents concerned about the effect on their environment, the impact on their children, and the connected crime and drug use.

Residents and religious groups were keen to avoid vigilantism, but isolated incidents of groups of young men trying to deter prostitution were observed.

A joint operation was mounted by police, probation and the Council, and the report says: “Over the last eight months community tensions in the area have been drastically reduced.”

Other measures taken include meetings with the community, installing CCTV, a clean up of the area including the removal of condoms and needles, and help from Bradford Working Women’s Service to encourage the sex workers to get support and move away from prostitution.

Inspector Richard Baildon, of Bradford District Police, said: “This is an excellent example of a number of partnerships coming together to help address people’s concerns in the community. Quite rightly, this was brought to our attention.

“Lumb Lane has previously been plagued by prostitution. The numbers have been on a much smaller scale than in the early 1990s, but it is something we are alive to.

“Locals have come together to discuss what they could do about the problem of prostitution. With our partners, we were able to harness that interest in addressing the problem. We were able to channel the frustrations in a more constructive way than vigilantism, which can ultimately be dangerous and lead to possible prosecution.”

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