We are continuing to work hard alongside local partners to tackle violence, abuse and intimidation of women and girls (VAIWG) after the successful introduction of a number of local initiatives.
Police forces nationally and partners under the Staffordshire and Stoke-on-Trent Violence Reduction Alliance are committed to making the streets safer and making sure there is a robust approach to both the prevention of violence and the protection of those who don’t feel safe.
Since the increased focus on VAIWG, the Violence Reduction Alliance – backed by successful Safer Streets and Safety of Women at Night funding bids secured by the Staffordshire Commissioner’s Office totalling over £3 million to date – has made a difference by improving open spaces and walkways with additional lighting and CCTV; developing educational and campaign materials to drive public awareness; and encouraging businesses to sign up to a Safer Places Charter as well as vulnerability training for night time economy staff.
The funding has also enabled designated safe spaces within Hanley and other locations across the county to be established, where the public can seek advice and support on a regular basis under the alliance’s broadest aim of reducing violence and driving public safety.
The Safe Space is ideally located in the heart of the nightlife in Hanley within a building on Gitana Street. It is owned by Saltbox, who are a faith-based, non-profit organisation supporting vulnerable members of the community in the city. Using this room enables the Stoke-on-Trent North local policing team, St John Ambulance and other partners to be both visible and accessible to those that need help.
The initiative has been running at key weekends since March 2022 – the dates when nightclubs and bars in Hanley are predicted to be the busiest. Activity took place on Friday 22 September to coincide with our VAIWG intensification week, which also involved coordinated operational activity and engagement events at colleges and universities.
Inspector Hayley Eaton said:
“The Safe Space provides those that need help while on a night out in Hanley a friendly face that will offer support and make sure they are able to get home safely.
“We work in partnership with St John Ambulance and Saltbox, along with Stoke-on-Trent City Council’s CCTV and Marshall teams and Partners Against Business Crime in Staffordshire (PABCIS) to provide this assistance.
“We are also working hard to proactively tackle perpetrators and deliver educational campaigns to make sure they know that their actions aren’t acceptable.
“Violence, abuse, and intimidation against women and girls in any form, and anywhere, is not acceptable and will not be tolerated. We will hold perpetrators of VAIWG accountable for their behaviour, as we are really striving to ensure women and girls feel safe and are confident in reporting to the police.”
Councillor David Williams from Stoke-on-Trent City Council visited the city centre on Friday night to see the activity in action. Cllr David Williams, cabinet member for communities, education and safety said:
“It has been great to see first-hand the work being carried out by the Violence Reduction Alliance to make sure our streets in the city centre are safe in the evenings.
“We want people from Stoke-on-Trent to feel comfortable visiting the city centre at night, and having the Safe Space at Saltbox, in close proximity to nightlife, will offer valuable support and ensure everyone gets home safely.”
Staffordshire Commissioner for Police, Fire & Rescue and Crime Ben Adams is Chair of the Violence Reduction Alliance. He said:
“It’s important that we continue our work to not only reduce violence against women and girls, but also ensure they actually feel safer in our towns and cities too.
“This is a key priority for me as Commissioner, which is why my office has successfully secured over £3 million funding so far from the Safer Streets and Safety of Women at Night funds for a range of practical partnership initiatives to protect our communities from harm.”
A spokesperson from St John Ambulance said:
“We are very pleased to be involved with Staffordshire Police and other partners on this important initiative. Our safe spaces are staffed with a team of highly trained volunteers who provide a range of medical and wellbeing services, ensuring that vulnerable members of the community are safe and well.”