London has just launched a new initiative that aims to keep women safe at night. The Women’s Night Safety Charter forms part of the Mayor of London’s strategy to tackle violence against women and girls, announced earlier this year.
So, what is the Women’s Night Safety Charter?
The charter is the first of its kind covering the entirety of the capital city and is designed to keep women in London safe at night, both when they are working and when they are enjoying a night out.
The concept was initially pioneered in Southwark, where over 60 venues signed up to it, before being adapted for the rest of the capital.
The charter includes seven commitments that operators, businesses, organisations and councils are being asked to pledge their support to. These are based on the pillars of reporting, responding, taking responsibility and redesigning public spaces, and are:
- Nominate a champion in your organisation who actively promotes women’s night safety
- Demonstrate to staff and customers that your organisation takes women’s safety at night seriously, for example through a communications campaign
- Tell staff what to do if they experience harassment when working, going out or travelling
- Encourage reporting by victims and bystanders as part of your communications campaign
- Train staff to ensure that all women who report are believed
- Train staff to ensure that all reports are recorded and responded to
- Design your public spaces and work places to make them safer for women at night
How has the initiative been received?
An impressive number of influential names have already signed up to the scheme, including The O2, Ministry of Sound, Transport for London, UK Music, Drinkaware, ATCM, Purple Flag and the Portman Group, and the initial response seems to be one of great interest and support. With the London Night Czar, Amy Lamé, and the Deputy Mayor for Policing and Crime, Sophie Linden, currently working hard to get more organisations on board we’re likely to see that number grow.
Does the Charter go far enough?
It’s going to be interesting to see what impact the charter has in reducing crimes against women. Although the commitments within it are a positive step in the right direction, there seems to be a strong onus on self-reporting of crime and less of an emphasis on measures for prevention or intervention.
For example, we would have liked to see a commitment towards training staff to spot signs of vulnerability and what to do in those circumstances. We’ve been told by partners who have signed up to the charter that this is definitely going to form part of what is delivered, so we expect there is a larger suite of materials and training to support the charter that have yet to be released.
We look forward to the release of this information, in order to gain a further understanding of what sort of impact the charter will have, as we fully support the aims of this initiative and what it intends to achieve.
It is also worth bearing in mind that the vast majority of victims of violent crimes after dark are men. The Crime Survey of England and Wales for the year ending March 2017 found that 61% of victims of violence were male. We would like to see the charter expanded in the future to incorporate all visitors to our inspiring, creative and vibrant capital, and beyond.
An inspiration for other cities
The Women’s Night Safety Charter is a great foundation to build upon and is yet another inspiring example of how London is leading the way in its ambition to be the safest city in the world.
Women play a huge role in the night time economy, as part of the workforce and as part of the consumer-base, and they deserve to feel safe. Having a charter that brings their safety to the forefront of the conversation and sets best practice guidelines for all to adhere can only be a good thing. We eagerly await news of other cities following suit in the not too distant future.