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Council allocates significant funding to support its commitment to the safety of women at night

25 February 2022

A new ambitious, long-term strategic approach to ending violence against women and girls (VAWG) was reviewed at last night’s (24 February) Finance, Policy and Resources Committee. This includes allocating £139,000 to support a local approach on improving the safety of women at night.

Towards the end of last year, Richmond Council made a bid to the Home Office for funding to deliver a safety of women at night (SWAN) programme. Due to high demand, the bid was unsuccessful. However, due to the high priority nature of this work, the Council has allocated £139,000 to deliver its own SWAN programme. The key strands of the programme include:

  • Increasing engagement with businesses operating at night-time, ensuring they understand safe space initiatives and work with us to improve the safety of women and girls in and around their venues
  • Delivering bystander training to businesses and night-time staff
  • Increasing community safety officer focus on areas where businesses and communities are active at night
  • Developing a ‘Safety of Women and Girls’ community forum to bring together partner businesses and the local community
  • Working with schools to engage with young people

Survivors and partner agencies have shared their experiences and expertise to inform the action-based strategy. A needs assessment was also carried out in 2019 to define the approach and the services required. From this research, four priorities have been identified for the Violence Against Women and Girls Strategy:

 

  1. Change attitudes and behaviours to support a better understanding of VAWG, the impact it has and what healthy relationships look and feel like
  2. Enable and support agencies to identify the early signs of violence and abuse, to provide opportunities for women and girls to disclose and receive the right help early on
  3. Ensure women and girls are safe in public spaces and that those who experience abuse and/or violence (and their children) are safe and protected from harm and have access to the right support at the right time
  4. Hold perpetrators of abuse to account

Now the wider strategy has been approved by the committee, it will next go to the Richmond upon Thames Community Safety Partnership for final approval. The Community Safety Partnership brings together various partners to prevent and reduce crime in the borough.

Once approved, Richmond Council will work closely with the Community Safety Partnership, the Metropolitan Police, and other key partners to deliver the ambitious strategy. The current draft is available to be viewed online.

Cllr Gareth Roberts, the Leader of Richmond Council, said:

“It is thought that 2 million people in the UK suffer from some form of domestic abuse each year, and that a quarter of thirteen to eighteen year old girls report experiencing physical abuse in their intimate partner relationships. This is unacceptable, and we need to do what we can to change behaviours and to support those most at risk from abuse and violence.

“This strategy is a first step to resolving a huge problem. Hopefully by working together with our partners and communities, and by listening to the people who have been affected, we can improve the safety of women and girls in Richmond upon Thames.”

Cllr Ben Khosa, White Ribbon Champion, added:

“As a recently White Ribbon accredited organisation, this strategy shows that we are serious with our commitment to end all male violence against women and girls. White Ribbon is a global campaign that encourages people, and especially men and boys, to act and change the behaviour and culture that can lead to abuse. This strategy supports the White Ribbon campaign, and I look forward to increasing our efforts to empower one another to help end male violence.”

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Up to: February 2022

Updated: 1 March 2022

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