It only takes one community to say enough is enough and come together to tackle violence against women
Main article content
“Let’s not pretend it doesn’t happen to every woman – it does”
Organisations across Northampton have come together to say “it only takes one community to say enough is enough” to violence against women.
A partnership led by Northamptonshire Police, Fire and Crime Commissioner and West Northamptonshire Council with Northamptonshire Police, Northamptonshire Rape Crisis and Northampton BID has come together to create a network of measures to make women safer at night by improving physical safety and security, tackling perpetrators, and starting a conversation that helps people call-out abuse.
The programme of work carried out has included measures to make licensed venues safer and a ground-breaking programme to train venue staff to recognise and tackle predatory behaviour.
Central to the programme is a new communications campaign that will raise awareness of all forms of harassment and violence against women and highlight that it only takes one person to say enough is enough to challenge the attitudes and inappropriate behaviours of some men.
Northamptonshire Police, Fire and Crime Commissioner and West Northamptonshire Council together were awarded more than £800,000 in Home Office funding to invest in the safety of women in the night-time economy.
The programme of work was developed in consultation with groups representing women and local communities, and has included:
£180,000 investment for new, monitored CCTV and further investment for help points on the Racecourse, Becket’s Park, All Saints Plaza and Abington Street in a first for Northampton. These allow someone to buzz for help and speak instantly to CCTV operators, while the camera zooms in on their location
Funding to bring the Shout Up programme to Northampton, to train and accredit bar staff in identifying and challenging harassing behaviour in their premises
ANPR cameras and other safety improvements in the Racecourse car park and a well-lit and signed safer walking route across Becket’s Park to the town centre
Funding for licensed premises to take part in the Licensing Safety and Vulnerability Initiative (LSavi) so that they can reassure their customers they take security seriously
Support for a special police operation that is targeting perpetrators who prey on women in the night-time economy
The communications campaign will include advertising, social media, and billboards in the first phase, to highlight the different forms that harassment and encourage bystanders to offer support safely and appropriately.
A new website for Northamptonshire – www.itonlytakesone.org.uk – will provide information, signpost to agencies that offer support and encourage men to have a conversation about attitudes towards women and the impact harassment and abuse has on their lives.
And the wider programme of work will continue to expand and be developed in the coming months and years and rolled out across the county.
Police Fire and Crime Commissioner Stephen Mold and West Northamptonshire Council Leader Cllr Jonathan Nunn and Portfolio Holder for Community Safety Cllr David Smith visited the Picturedrome, near the Racecourse, where staff have taken part in the first round of Shout Up training.
Suzy Keeping, is owner and director of two town centre venues, the Picturedrome and the Old White Hart, whose staff have all completed the Shout Up training. Suzy said: “I don’t think I know a woman who hasn’t experienced something nasty - let’s not pretend it doesn’t happen to every woman, it does. We think that’s how it is. But I am 100% up for helping to make a change and that is why our staff have taken part in Shout Up.”
Northamptonshire Police, Fire and Crime Commissioner Stephen Mold praised the businesses and organisations that have come together. He said: “Enough really is enough: it only takes one person to reach out, offer support, tell a friend to cut out the inappropriate comments. Together we can put a stop to sexual harassment, and that can only make the whole community safer.
“What makes our campaign unique is that partners have truly acknowledged that women’s safety is everyone’s responsibility and committed themselves to making a change and start a conversation about respect for women.”
Councillor Jonathan Nunn, Leader of West Northamptonshire Council, said: “Everyone deserves to feel safe in their home and their area. Through this partnership initiative our goal is to prevent problems before they occur and increase people’s feelings of safety, and we want residents to be proud of West Northants and to move around it freely and without fear.”
Cllr David Smith, Cabinet Member for Community Safety & Engagement and Regulatory Services, added: “Women and girls are disproportionately affected by crimes like harassment in public places. It really does only take one person to say enough is enough and challenge inappropriate behaviour, and I hope these improvements will help people to feel confident, safe and secure whatever the time of day.”
Northamptonshire Rape Crisis have delivered Shout Up training to 3 pilot venues and been consultants on the awareness campaign. Chief Executive Officer Dawn Thomas said: “The response to Shout-Up! has been extremely positive with pubs and venues enthusiastic to be involved in the scheme and promote it to others.
“We all want the same thing; that our pubs and clubs are a safe place for everyone to go. Northamptonshire Rape Crisis will be delivering Shout-Up! training to venues across Northampton and Kettering and we hope to roll the scheme out county wide later in the year.
“We’re delighted that some of the most well-recognised Northampton venues have come forward to get involved at this early stage, and that they are determined to be the best premises they can be.
“Shout-Up! training also enables pubs and venues to understand how they can intervene for their staff too, as too often harassment of staff is normalised. We look forward to working with venues in the coming months to protect their staff and patrons from harassment.”
Northamptonshire Police have been running Operation Kayak to actively pursue predators who target and prey on women in the night-time economy. Detective Superintendent Joe Banfield said: “We are really pleased to be part of this programme to make Northampton safer, and fully support the It Only Takes One campaign. Things will only change for women if we all do the right thing. We need to be upstanding as a community to challenge and condemn harassment and stop this kind of abuse.
“Misogyny, sexism and discrimination should be called out by everyone, so perpetrators understand this won’t be tolerated. Left unchallenged, this type of behaviour can escalate and in some cases lead to serious crime and violence against women and girls. Women are harassed and abused every day, and it needs to stop.”
Northampton Town Centre BID is committed to making Northampton a safe and attractive place to visit and do business and strongly supports the new campaign.
BID Operations Manager Mark Mullen said: “We want everyone to feel confident they can enjoy a night out in Northampton without the fear of violence or harassment, so we wholeheartedly welcome this campaign. By working together we can create an environment where every women feels safe, respected and valued.
Information and support can be found at www.itonlytakesone.org.uk