Somerset County Council and North Somerset Council have jointly secured an additional £317,694 from the Home Office Safer Streets Fund to continue to make public spaces and streets safer for women and girls.
This follows the success of the neighbouring councils’ 2021 campaign ‘It can stop if we change together’. This raised awareness, tackled sexual harassment and Violence Against Women and Girls (VAWG) to make public places and streets safer.
The national Safer Streets campaign is aimed at changing perpetrator behaviour and to have a conversation in society that challenges misogynistic attitudes and discourages inappropriate behaviour towards women and girls. This additional funding will enable the campaign to continue for another year across North Somerset and Somerset.
The campaign already provides a program of prevention and response activity to help reduce the impact of VAWG, including delivering education and training programs, public engagement events, women’s outreach services and deployment of 18 additional CCTV cameras across the combined local authority area.
This additional funding will allow the councils to focus on anti-social behaviour concerns that contribute to the fear of VAWG by targeting resources at four locations – Taunton, Bridgwater, Weston-super-Mare and Yeovil. The areas identified experience VAWG related crime, anti-social behaviour and low feelings of safety for people within those communities.
It will provide funding for a new Safer Streets van that will be operated by North Somerset Council’s Community Safety Team. The Safer Streets van will add to the well-established mobile police station model and will be used to run drop-ins, roadshows and awareness-raising events. It will also double up as a mobile office enabling officers to work within the hotspot areas for VAWG and anti-social behaviour to maximise visibility.
Speaking about the Safer Streets campaign, Somerset County Council’s Lead member with responsibility for public health, equalities and diversity Cllr Adam Dance said, “This significant extra funding will enable us to continue to tackle sexual harassment and violence against women and girls across our county. The Safer Streets campaign is so important – inappropriate words or actions against women and girls are simply not acceptable. We want perpetrators to think about how their behaviour makes people feel, and we are committed through this campaign to help reduce Violence Against Women and Girls and improve safety for women and girls in public places across Somerset.”
Cllr Mike Solomon, North Somerset Council’s executive member for neighbourhoods and community services, said: “The Safer Streets project across North Somerset and Somerset is hugely important. It presents an opportunity to work together and achieve positive outcomes in tackling Violence Against Women and Girls crimes across the area. I’m delighted that additional funding has been secured to enable this invaluable work to continue for another year. With Somerset, we are fully committed to changing behaviour and increasing the feelings of safety for women and girls.”
If you want to know more about sexual harassment and violence against women and girls and how to change behaviour, visit www.saferstreetsawareness.co.uk