Northumbria’s Police and Crime Commissioner Kim McGuinness has vowed to prioritise women’s safety and has announced that nearly £250,000 is being pumped into more late night policing and a range of measures to address the night time fears of females across Northumberland, Tyne and Wear.
More dedicated late night patrols will be happening across the region as part of Operation Cloak, which is being expanded throughout Northumbria’s nightlife. This will be teamed up with making specialist support services readily available to victims at the earliest possible opportunity.
The money will help build on existing successful initiatives designed to keep vulnerable people safe as well as new schemes and awareness campaigns to help change behaviours.
Well received prevention projects such as street pastors and street angels are also to be built upon and there are plans underway to work with offenders and potential offenders to change behaviours.
Nationally, the cases of Sarah Everard and Bibaa Henry have sparked a great deal of anger with many calling for change.
The need to make women feel safer at night has also been echoed locally in the responses to the Commissioner’s Safer Streets survey – where local women were invited to share their experiences and concerns with Kim McGuinness, as well as their thoughts on what could be done to make things better.
Key findings of the survey have been used to help inform plans. For instance, it was revealed that half the sexual harassment that happens in our area happens in bars and pubs and ‘not in a public place’. It also found 42 per cent of respondents felt unsafe or very unsafe at night, compared to 11 per cent during the day.
Northumbria Police and Crime Commissioner, Kim McGuinness, said: “What kind of society do we live in where women are scared to walk home at night or worry about their drink getting spiked? Things have to change and if anyone says otherwise they are part of the problem.
“I know ours is, thankfully, one of the safest regions but when we carried out The Safer Streets survey earlier this year it really hit home – we clearly don’t feel safe enough. And so, I am setting out plans to do something about it. This is women’s day-to-day lives – women must feel safer.
“As much as I wish we could, we can’t fix society over-night but we can and will do better. More police at night, more training of businesses in the night time economy, more education and interventions – we’re joining it all up so women in Northumbria will feel safer and women will be safer.”
Funding for the plans has been secured by PCC Kim McGuinness – the result of a successful application to the Home Office’s Safer Women at Night Fund. The Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner will be delivering the initiatives alongside Northumbria Police, Street Pastors, Rape Crisis Tyneside and Northumberland and the local authorities throughout the Northumbria Police force area.