Enhanced safety measures are being discussed for women across Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole following the tragic death of Sarah Everard and the subsequent vigils that took place where powerful messages made it clear that women do not feel safe on the streets.
BCP Council has recognised that change needs to happen and on Monday 15 March, the Leaders of the council put in motion a number of initiatives to work towards the change that is being called for. The first, to develop an internal woman’s staff group to understand the experiences of colleagues in and out of the workplace.
Leader of the Council, Councillor Drew Mellor commented:
“We all have mothers, sisters, wives, daughters and this senseless death has made us readdress our priorities. We want them to live in a world without fear, in a fairer and safer environment where they can walk home at night without having to looking over their shoulders. Change doesn’t happen overnight, but we understand the need to act on this immediately so we’re addressing the key priorities that will help to bring about the change that is so desperately needed.”
Other initiatives include a call to action, asking the local community to inform the council on all matters around personal safety when out and about so that all people feel safe to be on the streets across Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole.
Councillor Mellor continued:
“I have asked for a call to action on areas where women don’t feel safe – we want to address that and do something about it.
“We want our all our residents to feel safe when out and about, and we’re asking people to report any areas that we need to improve on to make them feel safer. That might be additional CCTV in certain places, or perhaps streetlights aren’t working somewhere and trees need to be cut back to improve visibility. If residents report it, we can look into it for you. We are committed to our connected communities objective, empowering our communities so everyone feels safe, engaged and included.”
The council’s Cleaner, Greener, Safer campaign is working to ensure that Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole is a safe place for all. Recently the council has invested in additional Community Safety Accreditation Scheme officers to patrol the streets and deal with anti-social behaviour, while funding for additional CCTV cameras has also been received. Increased community days of action will take place when COVID-19 restrictions allow.
Deputy Leader of the Council, Councillor Philip Broadhead commented:
“We believe that the BCP area is a place where people have the right to live, work or visit free of harassment, threat or harm, regardless of their sex or gender.
“We have engaged with Councillor May Haines, Portfolio Holder for Community Safety to reaffirm our commitment to female safety and our new BCP Domestic Abuse Strategy is expected to be completed in May. Furthermore, we are working with our partner agencies including the police, who are naturally all as committed to this cause as we are.”
The council works with local partners – including Dorset Police, the Youth Offending Service and local charities and community groups to tackle crime across the conurbation as part of the Community Safety Partnership (CPS). The next CSP meeting takes place today, Thursday 18 March with serious violence and domestic abuse remaining key priorities. The Partnership is further prioritising the development of a Tackling Serious Violence Strategy in its 2021 programme.
Assistant Chief Constable Sam de Reya, Chair of the Community Safety Partnership commented:
“The Community Safety Partnership brings together BCP Council, Dorset Police and other agencies who are all absolutely committed to tackling violence against women and girls, keeping our communities safe and preventing harm.
"We want to ensure the safety of all in our communities, but wholly appreciate how many women and girls will be feeling at this time.
“Our Community Safety Partnership is strong, collaborative and brings together all of the groups and agencies which together can make a difference and protect the communities which we serve”
For any residents who feel unsafe and wish to report issues that need addressing for enhanced safety measures across Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole, please report issues here.