Safer Streets want to work together across Bedfordshire to reduce Violence against Women and Girls (VAWG) and raise awareness about unacceptable behaviour towards women and girls. Our aim is to start a conversation that challenges ideas around the acceptability of sexual harassment in public places. Sexual harassment has significant and widespread impacts, both on individuals as well as on society. Sexual harassment in public reduces women and girls’ freedom to enjoy public life, and can negatively affect feelings of safety, bodily autonomy and mental health. Being sexually harassed can be a degrading, humiliating, and harmful experience, but the effects are damaging more widely. It helps to keep women and girls unequal by perpetuating a culture in which they are sexualised; it is the backdrop to a society in which sexual violence can be normalised or excused.
In the UK, as elsewhere in the world, men and boys are overwhelmingly the perpetrators of sexual harassment in public places. Given that little research data is available on perpetrator of sexual harassment in the UK, it is understood that most perpetrators at times are unaware that their behaviour is unacceptable and has made a woman or girl uncomfortable or they are not ready to acknowledge that they are a perpetrator of sexual violence in society. Therefore, we encourage family, friends and peers to step up, speak up and challenge an unacceptable behaviour.
An April 2022 Bedfordshire Women and Girls Safety survey reported that 77% of respondents had directly experienced or witnessed VAWG related incidents and of these 85% did not report these to the police as many believed it would not change anything and it was generally accepted as something which happens. One quote received said “I don’t think it would be taken seriously and as much as the behaviour makes me feel uncomfortable and unsafe, I’m not sure any of it actually breaks the law”.
Any victim of violence and abuse deserves to access support and help. It is important that men and boys are included in all aspects of our work on all forms of violence against women and girls (particularly work on prevention and awareness raising). We are committed to ensuring that any victim will receive a sensitive and appropriate response, according to their needs. However, the VAWG strategy reflects that gender based violence is predominately a pattern of behaviour perpetrated by men against women. This does not mean that men are never victims of violence, or that women are not sometimes perpetrators. However, local and national prevalence data reveals a clear disproportionality along gender lines.
In conjunction with the force communications team, we have developed a Safer Streets 4 Linktree. Linktree is a tool that allows you to share multiple links on social media through a single landing page. The Safer Streets 4 Linktree can be accessed at https://linktr.ee/saferstreets
In addition, we have created a Safer Streets 4 QR code which opens the Safer Streets 4 Linktree. This QR code will be used extensively across the project and form part of promotion, support, and communication materials.
School students across Bedfordshire are being encouraged to put their creative skills into tackling violence against women and girls. The design competition for students across the county is part of a flagship education programme being run by the Safer Streets VAWG project. The competition is for students to create digital art, short animation and/or a short film to highlight what is inappropriate behaviour and what it would look like from a bystander or a victim’s perspective. There will be prizes available to schools by category and age group and the winning entries will form part of the toolkit and future media campaigns funded by Safer Streets across Bedfordshire.
Further details can be found in the poster below.
The programme will also see a toolkit and training on tackling sexual harassment in public places made available to every middle, secondary and upper school in Bedfordshire, as well as colleges. The toolkit has been developed in conjunction with the national charity Our Streets Now and includes lesson plans, assembly packs, posters and wider topical and safeguarding information for teachers. These have been created with guidance from teachers, parents and secondary school pupils. A series of training sessions has also been developed for school staff throughout February.
There will also be a theatre performance on public sexual harassment delivered to hundreds of year nine students at our forthcoming youth conference.
Should you require further information about any aspects of the education programme, please email email@example.com.
You can report information and crimes to Bedfordshire Police by calling 101, or by speaking to them through the web chat service.
Flare is a free app that allows the anonymous reporting of any incidents or threatening behaviour in 3 simple steps. 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. Links to download the free app via the App store or Google play can be found via the Safer Streets linktree
In an emergency, always call 999
If you have information but you want to remain anonymous you can speak up by calling Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.
In an emergency, always call 999
We also support the StreetSafe tool, where anyone can anonymously inform of public places where you have felt or feel unsafe.
This includes environmental issues, eg street lighting, abandoned buildings or vandalism and/or because of some behaviours, eg being followed or verbally abused.
Please note: ‘StreetSafe’ is not for reporting crime or incidents.
There is lots of support out there for women and girls in Bedfordshire.
If you or someone you know needs immediate support please contact Victim Support on a FREE 24/7 support line on 0808 1689111.
If you have concerns about your partner, you can request information about them through the Clare’s Law scheme via the Bedfordshire Police website.
This scheme gives any member of the public the right to ask the police if their partner may pose a risk to them. This scheme also allows a member of the public to make an enquiry into the partner of a close friend or family member.
We are supporting the free Hollie Guard app, a smartphone device that gives people a higher level of personal safety and security.
We are part of the Bedfordshire Domestic Abuse Partnership (BDAP), a collection of organisations working to help and support all victims of abuse.
You can find a full list of support services and how to contact them on the BDAP website.