A new app for people to report feeling unsafe has been launched across Bedfordshire.
Flare is being aimed at women and girls to empower them to anonymously report any incidents or threatening behaviour.
Bedfordshire Police is supporting the launch of the new app, which is available to everyone, and will use the data to target patrols and enforcement action by officers and local authority community safety teams.
The app has been launched as part of the Safer Streets project, a major programme to tackle violence against women and girls being led by the county’s police and crime commissioner (PCC).
Bedfordshire PCC Festus Akinbusoye said: “I am hugely impressed by the relentless focus I see in policing and other agencies to keep women and girls in Bedfordshire safe.
“Part of this is understanding where this unacceptable behaviour is taking place and this new app is one of many ways you can report feeling unsafe so the police can take action.”
While crimes that need an immediate response should be reported to police, behaviour that can be reported via the app includes things such as cat-calling, wolf-whistling and drinks spiking.
Flare was developed and launched by Gloucestershire Police and their police and crime commissioner last year.
The app can be downloaded for free via the App store or Google Play and it takes less than a minute to submit a report via the app.
Detective Chief Superintendent Dee Perkins, Bedfordshire Police’s lead for male violence against women and girls, said: “It is not acceptable for women and girls to be left feeling unsafe by misogynistic and inappropriate behaviour.
“While this type of behaviour may not always meet the criminal threshold, we want to encourage people to speak up and report it in whatever way they feel most comfortable.
“We are launching this app during our 16 days of action campaign against domestic abuse, but our commitment to women’s safety lasts all year around.”
A spokesperson from Panic Guard, the technology provider behind the Flare app, said: “Flare is the UK’s only reporting app to prevent violence against women and girls.
“All members of the community, particularly women and girls, feel safer in public spaces as a result of Flare.
“Throughout England, Flare has worked to increase community trust in police and local government.
“By reporting incidents through Flare, women and girls can help police in areas in need of more support.
“Doing this builds an evidence base for what is going on in areas and how to change attitudes and behaviours.”
The Safer Streets project has brought together local partners across Bedfordshire to improve the safety of women and girls in public spaces.
Backed with more than £700,000 of funding from the Home Office, the programme will fund specialist youth workers to tackle violence against women and girls, an education programme and competition across schools in the county, as well as taking Bedfordshire Police’s Project Firefly county wide.
For more information visit https://www.bedfordshire.pcc.police.uk/safer-streets-violence-against-women-and-girls/