Funding boost to improve women’s safety in Bristol
Funding boost to improve women’s safety in Bristol
City’s successful bid for Home Office backing
10 November 2021
Authorities in Bristol have been awarded £282,000 to improve women’s safety following a successful bid for Home Office funding to tackle crimes against women at night.
The money will come from the Home Office’s Safety of Women at Night Fund, and mostly used to focus efforts on tackling sexual harassment against women. This work will include over £150,000 to develop and deliver training and an awareness campaign aimed at supporting night-time venues to tackle this crime.
Funding has also been allocated to deliver drink spiking test kits to police stations across the city to support the city’s efforts in fighting back against perpetrators of this crime. Just under £20,000 will be used to supply testing kits for police to use on call-outs or when people present with a suspected spiked drink and support police efforts to deliver the education and training needed to help officers to respond to drink spiking incidents.
Carly Heath, Bristol Night-Time Economy Advisor, said: “This funding is a very welcome endorsement of our commitment to improving the safety of women at night. It is also a reminder that women’s safety can only be improved by taking action to improve the conditions in which women experience the night-time economy. Our bid was based on the knowledge that many crimes against women at night go unreported but widely witnessed.
“These crimes are being committed against all women at night, whether they work at night or are visitors to the city’s night-time economy. Recent survey results show that 97 per cent of respondents had witnessed a woman being harassed but most did not acknowledge it as harassment, with painfully few reporting what they’d seen. The need for education and courage to identify and call out criminal behaviour is why we have taken this approach.
“Our Bristol Rules campaign is already setting out the behavioural expectations we have to ensure women can experience the night-time economy free from risk. We’re working with venues to ensure staff and those who support them are more aware of the signs of harassment and also know what to do when they receive a complaint about drink spiking.
“We’ve supplied venues with kits to test drinks and are working with partners in the police to have clear guidance on how to report and handle claims. This money will build on this work and take our efforts to another level as we seek to fight back against the perpetrators of these cowardly crimes.”
Funding has been split into six streams to meet the overall aims of the bid:
- £173,000 aimed at tackling sexual harassment, including training for venues on how to deal with and tackle incidents of such harassment
- £20,000 to provide testing kits and support police education and training programmes
- £31,000 to develop a Bristol Women’s Safety Charter, similar to the one in place in London, for all businesses who have responsibility for female workers in the night-time economy
- £21,000 to support Bristol@Night events and website aimed at delivering information and guidance about improving women’s safety
- £10,000 to deliver consultation and workshops for organisations tackling violence against women and girls and night-time economy stakeholders
- £26,000 to support project costs and resources
Efforts to raise safety awareness and tackle drink spiking have already begun in the city.
The Bristol Rules campaign has launched to offer advice and support to those working in and enjoying the night-time economy. Part of this campaign has seen efforts focused on tackling drink spiking by ensuring venues and those who work in the sector have the guidance they need to spot issues, support victims, tackle perpetrators and report incidents. This includes delivering kits to venues to support their efforts.
Whilst this campaign remains separate from the Home Office funding bid, the money awarded to deliver testing kits to police stations will support the aims of the Bristol Rules campaign.
Chief Inspector Lorna Dallimore, of Avon and Somerset Police, said:
“We welcome the news that Bristol City Council has been successful in securing funding for a trial rollout of drink testing kits. The kits will provide an additional tool for officers and may serve as evidence for any investigation. As well as the drink testing kits officers already have access to forensic sampling kits, which are used for securing and preserving evidence.
“We urge anyone who thinks they have had their drink spiked to speak to someone you trust as soon as possible. This can be the bar staff, door staff, or the police. Thanks to the kits we will be able to test your drink and we will have the results within minutes.
“We’re working closely with partner organisations to introduce initiatives to make it easier to gather evidence, identify the perpetrators and get convictions.
“Drink spiking is illegal and it carries a maximum sentence of ten years in prison.
“I want to make it clear to anyone who is thinking of going out and spiking someone’s drink that such actions are abhorrent, inexcusable and will not be tolerated.”
Funding for the Bristol Women’s Safety Charter has been secured based on the promise to deliver a set of pledges that organisations that operate at night can sign up to.
This work will seek to ensure all organisations operating at night have a common set of ideals and commitments towards keeping women safe. The work will be based on the already established model seen in London.