Prioritising women's safety at night

Prioritising women's safety at night

Bristol employers urged to prioritise women’s safety at night by signing up to the Women’s Safety Charter.

17 March 2022

Employers across the city are being urged to take action to prioritise women’s safety at night by signing up to the city’s first Women’s Safety Charter.

The charter consists of a set of seven commitments and is designed to provide practical steps employers can take to improve the safety of women who work in the night-time economy. 

Development of the charter has been led by Bristol Nights, working alongside Bristol City Council, Bristol’s Violence Against Women and Girls specialists, night-time venues and Avon and Somerset Police. The charter was modelled on a similar commitment from the Mayor of London.

Over 30 percent of all Bristol jobs operate between the hours of 6pm and 6am across health and social care, leisure, hospitality and cultural sectors. In addition to those who work in the night-time economy, the charter asks organisations large and small to take steps to protect women who visit the city at night.

Marvin Rees, Mayor of Bristol, said: “Too many women in our night-time economy have been subject to harassment or some form of threat. When a recent survey tells us that over nine in ten women have experienced harassment of some form at night, it’s clear that we need to act now. To act, we must do so collectively as public authorities and private businesses. Each of us has a responsibility to ensure that our environments promote safety, that we provide training and support to tackle harassment and establish clear routes for issues to be reported and challenged. I urge employers, large and small, to join us as we fight back against perpetrators and stand up for the safety of women at night.”

A national survey conducted in 2021 showed that 97 percent of the people surveyed had been harassed or had known someone who has been. A recent Bristol survey found that one in six venues said they have experienced harassment at their venue, with most venues choosing to use a zero-tolerance policy.
Of those venues surveyed, an overwhelming 87 percent said they felt further training would be of benefit to them. Such training is already being rolled out across the city with the development of a programme pulled together by a leading anti-sexual harassment trainer. This is alongside local communications campaigns and awareness activity that has been supported by £282,000 of funding form the Home Office’s Safety of Women at Night Fund.

Carly Heath, Bristol’s Night-Time Economy Advisor, said: “When we talk about safety of women after dark, all too often the responsibility falls on women’s actions. We all have a role and a responsibility in securing the safety of women at night. The problem of harassment in the night-time economy is too widespread for any single organisation or individual to tackle alone. We must take a joined-up approach across venues, public agencies, charities, and support services to challenge perpetrators, provide safer environments and protect women at night. This charter sets out practical steps we can all take to improve safety conditions and provides a focal point for our efforts. In addition to the charter, we are also delivering training aimed at equipping venues and others with the knowledge and skills to tackle harassment. This training will help ensure that we’re introducing a robust and consistent approach across the sector aimed specifically at improving the safety of women at night.”

The project has an ambition to train 1,000 night-time economy workers in dealing with incidents of sexual harassment. This introductory training has been specially designed in collaboration with the night-time economy and Violence Against Women and Girls agencies and delivered in partnership with Bristol City Centre Business Improvement District. 

This training supports venue staff to implement a zero-tolerance approach in Bristol, while also promoting the need for anyone witnessing any unwanted behaviour in the city’s night-time economy to immediately call it out to staff. Night-time workers and businesses can sign up now to take part in training sessions. 

Marti Burgess, owner of Lakota Nightclub and Gardens, said: “We take the safety of women very seriously and are constantly looking at ways in which we can spot threats, challenge unacceptable behaviour and provide a safe environment for all. Despite our efforts and those of many other venues it’s clear that we need a collective effort across sectors to tackle the rise in harassment being seen in the sector. This new charter and the training being rolled out is a welcome step and one that will help bring the right people and organisations together to improve the experience of the night-time economy for women.”

The charter was launched at an event held at the Bristol Beacon on Wednesday 16 March. The event saw a number of organisations immediately sign up to make a commitment to women's safety.

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