Women and girls face a higher risk of sexual violence in areas with bigger night-time economies and a new campaign is looking to make Liverpool city centre a safer place. Tony McDonough reports
A a new campaign to try to make Liverpool city centre a safer place for women and girls is seeking £270,000 in Government funding
Liverpool has one of the most vibrant night-time economies in the UK but there is a darker side – the elevated risk to the safety of women and girls in the city centre after dark.
Now a new campaign to try to make Liverpool city centre a safer place for all is seeking £270,000 in Government funding. The money will be used to promote safer transport routes in an out of the city.
Studies have found that the risk of sexual violence is high in locations associated with the night-time economy – and women are 11 times more likely than men to be the victim of assault or rape.
Liverpool City Council is working in partnership with Merseyside Police, the city’s universities and registered charity RASA Merseyside – the rape and sexual abuse support service. They are leading on initiatives which include:
- Reinforcing the message that women should not be pressured in to non-consensual sexual activity. These images telling women they will be taken seriously have been displayed on digital billboards across the city, on taxis as well as inside bars.
- Post-lockdown, the city council’s Alcohol and Tobacco Unit has resumed work with bar and club staff to train them to identify and prevent sexual assaults. By February 2020, 150 door and bar staff had been trained.
- Merseyside Police’s Operation Empower sees dedicated officers tasked with identifying potential perpetrators who are displaying signs of predatory behaviour, as well as preventing sexual violence in the city’s night time economy.
- RASA’s It’s not me it’s you campaign addresses victim blaming culture by calling out perpetrators and reframing attitudes to victims, placing the blame back where it belongs – with the perpetrator.
Now the partnership has applied for £270,000 of Safer Streets 3 Home Office which will be invested in promoting safer transport routes in and out of the city centre. The bid was developed in response to a consultation with women and girls in Liverpool.
The Safer Streets funding was released following the murder of Sarah Everard who was abducted while walking home in London earlier this year. It is expected a decision on the bid will be made in September.
Mayor of Liverpool, Joanne Anderson, said: “We are committed to working with partners across the city to make sure women are safe in Liverpool – particularly now that life is slowly returning to normal and our night time economy has mostly opened up.
“We are striving to end these appalling crimes, and by using thought-provoking messaging on digital platforms we can educate people about sexual violence – the key is to focus on preventing these crimes from happening in the first place.
“Together we can raise awareness and hopefully reduce the number of assaults and make our streets safe for everyone. It’s a sad reflection on our society that we have to do this, but everyone has the right to feel safe in our city and this campaign is an important step towards that goal.”
Earlier in the summer police in Liverpool stepped up patrols amid a series of vicious targeted assaults on LGBT+ people in the city centre after dark. In late June there was large demonstration and Mayor Anderson joined those present to show her support.
Superintendent Sarah Kenwright of Merseyside Police said in June: “We are doing a lot of work with the night-time economy in terms of where and when we put patrols out, we want Liverpool city centre to be a safe place for everyone.”