NUM is delighted to hear that the Managed Area in Leeds has been evaluated and has proven to be a successful safety initiative for sex workers. Projects like these that are informed by the lived experiences of sex workers must be supported to continue and adapt to the changing needs of this population.
BASIS, sex workers, activists and researchers together have contributed to improving the safety of sex workers despite vicious ad hominem attacks from some members of the community who are not fully invested in harm reduction for this population. We applaud sex workers, BASIS and the City of Leeds in working together to address poverty and issues of violence.
Gracey, a Leeds-based sex worker and member of the NUM Research & Development (R&D) team states:
‘The independent review demonstrates what sex workers already know and have been saying for years: criminalisation puts us at risk, increased violence and harms our relationships with the police and services.’
NUM data indicates an increase in reporting in West Yorkshire between 2018 and 2019, and an increase in consent given by sex workers to involve police in their justice-seeking and recovery after being harmed at work.
The R&D Team of industry experts state the following:
"We welcome the evaluation of the Managed Area in Leeds, which has been shown to improve the safety of sex workers and increase access to support and justice. Any decisions taken now and in the future must prioritise the lived experiences of sex workers, particularly those operating within the Managed Area, in ensuring harm reduction and reducing stigma. There can be nothing about us without us."
We look forward to reading the full report and encourage strategic support to sex workers during and beyond the pandemic.