Campaign aims to make streets safer for women and girls

Safer Streets campaign ad

Ads will be installed on buses and more - Credit: Safer Streets Campaign

A new campaign aims to make Somerset streets safer for women and girls.

North Somerset and Somerset County Councils have joined forces in a pledge to make public places and streets safer for women and girls.

As part of the Safer Streets project, the neighbouring councils launched a new campaign this week called, 'It can stop if we change together', in a bid to raise awareness, tackle sexual harassment and Violence Against Women and Girls (VAWG) and to make public places and streets safer.

The campaign is aimed at changing perpetrator behaviour and to start a conversation in society that challenges misogynistic attitudes and discourages inappropriate behaviour towards women and girls.

"The Safer Streets project across North Somerset and Somerset is hugely important," said Cllr Mike Solomon, North Somerset Council’s executive member for neighbourhoods and community services.

"It presents an opportunity to work together and achieve positive outcomes in tackling Violence Against Women and Girls crimes across the area. 

"This campaign is a crucial element of that project focussing not on the victims and telling them what they should do or reminding them of the ordeal they have faced, but on the perpetrators and society as a whole to get the conversation started around what’s acceptable behaviours and what’s not.

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"With Somerset we are fully committed to changing behaviour and increasing the feelings of safety for women and girls."

Adverts will appear on buses, radio and on all digital platforms with social media featuring some typical 'banter' or 'locker room'-style chat, showing how this type of talk can make our streets less safe while emphasising the effect it has on women and girls.

As per statistics revealed by the ONS (Office for National Statistics) nationally, sexual assault was most common among younger women, with about one in 10 women aged 16 to 24 having been a victim in the past year. 

In the year ending March 2020, the ONS estimated that 4.9 million women had been victims of sexual assault in their lives. 

In Somerset, the number of victims reporting offences of this nature to Avon & Somerset Police has increased in the last 12 months. 

The age of victims follows the national trend of women aged 16-24 most likely of being a victim, however the proportion of younger victims (under 16) has also increased.

Somerset County Council’s cabinet member with responsibility for public health, Cllr Clare Paul, said: "The campaign will undoubtedly spark a conversation across the region on acceptable and unacceptable behaviour that could put the safety of our women and girls at risk and make our streets unsafe. 

"We want perpetrators to think about their words and actions and the effect this has on others around them. 

"Inappropriate words or actions against women and girls are not acceptable in any way. 

"We are committed through this campaign to help reduce Violence Against Women and Girls (VAWG) and increase women and girls’ safety in public places."

The campaign is a result of a successful joint bid made by the two councils to the Home Office Safer Streets Fund for £324,449 to tackle sexual harassment and violence against women and girls.

For more on the campaign, visit www.saferstreetsawareness.co.uk