New funding announced to make Northumberland women feel safer at night

Nearly £250,000 is to be pumped into more late night policing and other measures to address the night time fears of women in the North East.

Wednesday, 10th November 2021, 1:20 pm

The announcement was made by Northumbria’s Police and Crime Commissioner Kim McGuinness who has vowed to prioritise women’s safety in the wake of the Sarah Everard murder by Metropolitan police officer Wayne Couzens.

The murder and background to the killing have prompted widespread outcry and calls for reforms in policing.

In Northumberland and Tyne and Wear, more dedicated late night patrols will be happening as part of Operation Cloak, while specialist support services will be made readily available to victims at the earliest possible opportunity.

Kim McGuinness, Northumbria Police and Crime Commissioner. Picture by Frank Reid.

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.

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, 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.

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 has been secured through 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 local authorities in the region.

Last month, the crime commissioner promised to improve transport and park safety, including Ashington’s Hirst Park, with an £800,000 investment in CCTV, Metro safety volunteers, increased lighting and a new reporting app.

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