Attercliffe’s rising fortunes: Taking action on sex trade and run-down sites

Attercliffe.
Attercliffe.

The Star has been painting a picture of Attercliffe’s bright future through a series of features – but the area has sometimes made the news for seedier reasons.

The suburb has a higher proportion of saunas and massage parlours than anywhere else in Sheffield – swingers' club La Chambre is one of only two licenced sexual entertainment venues in the city, while last year City Sauna was the subject of an eye-opening Channel 4 documentary, A Very British Brothel.

La Chambre, Attercliffe Road. Pictured: NSST-AttercliffeLaChambre-1

La Chambre, Attercliffe Road. Pictured: NSST-AttercliffeLaChambre-1

However, it would be misleading to call Attercliffe a red light district, the police insist. It may have more establishments, but it is not tfrequented by sex workers on the streets, officers say – an assertion confirmed by city charity the Sheffield Working Women’s Opportunity Project, which supports vulnerable females involved in prostitution.

“I can safely say that there are no women on the streets of Attercliffe, and as far as I know there never has been,” says the charity’s manager Sali Harwood.

The saunas, South Yorkshire Police says, ‘haven’t presented the levels of concern and risk that may have been perceived by the public’. Referring to Attercliffe as a red light district, it argues, could create a problem that doesn’t exist.

In fact, says Sergeant Lee Kaighin, of the Darnall and Tinsley problem-orientated policing team, ‘there is no red light area in Sheffield’.

City Sauna, Attercliffe, Road. Pictured: NSST-AttercliffeCitySauna-1

City Sauna, Attercliffe, Road. Pictured: NSST-AttercliffeCitySauna-1

“Throughout the city, we both react to intelligence and information in relation to the sex trade and brothels, and also conduct safeguarding visits to premises that advertise as massage parlours. We visit these premises and speak to the staff that work there in order to check on the safety and to ensure that they are not working there either through being trafficked or under duress.  If we see signs that sexual services are being offered at a premises, we will serve the owner and representative with a notice explaining possible offences that they may be committing. Further visits will then be made to see if there practices have changed. Prosecution could be taken if further offences are disclosed.” 

Officers are ‘always working hard to tackle issues in Attercliffe and build community relationships’, says PS Kaighin. “Attercliffe has seen various regeneration projects in recent years which is hugely positive for the area. Our team work hard to ensure the views of local residents and businesses are listened to and we’d encourage anyone with any concerns to contact us.”

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Sheffield Council says efforts to brighten up Attercliffe more generally – improving the run-down appearance of some spots and bringing in greater investment – are gathering pace.

Coun Mazher Iqbal, the council’s cabinet member for business and investment, says: “Attercliffe is an important gateway to the city for people arriving from the M1 and is a crucial local centre for surrounding neighbourhoods. That’s why there has been significant investment in public transport recently.

“Over the last few years we have committed a huge amount of time and money to the reclamation and redevelopment of the Sheffield Olympic Legacy Park with its new school and University Technical College, public realm and major investment in new research facilities from Sheffield Hallam University. The council is currently actively working on bringing forward the next phases.

“At the other end of Attercliffe, we have also been working hard with two other major landowners and is now close to finalising the necessary legal agreements and approvals to bring forward a very large canalside site which will be marketed early next year.

“These two projects will have a massive impact on Attercliffe and help to rejuvenate the high street and attract further private investment.

“We all know there is still much more work to be done, including the potential to work with local business leaders and groups to make sure the streets are clean and well-maintained. However, these issues take time and need private investment as well as from the council, but we are seeing increasing interest from the private sector to do so.”