How is VAWG being tackled in Sussex?
Violence Against Women and Girls (VAWG) is a key priority for both Police & Crime Commissioner Katy Bourne and Sussex Police. Minister for Safeguarding Rachel Maclean MP paid a recent visit to Sussex find out more about the work underway to protect women and girls in the county. You can find out more in the sections below.
What is the PCC doing about VAWG?
As PCC, Katy Bourne commissions a county-wide Domestic Abuse and Sexual Violence Framework and accompanying action plan and she has spearheaded a number of initiatives to tackle the problem.
You can read news stories about the work she has enabled in the county from the links below.
15/11/21 - Extra funding to protect women at night
4/10/21 - PCC welcomes Safer Streets funding
Do the Right Thing
Do the Right Thing is the PCC’s campaign to raise awareness of sexual harassment and misogynistic behaviour and give people the confidence to safely challenge it when they witness it. It consists of a video and a series of posters asking questions such as “Your friend tells a rape joke. Do you: a. Join in with the laughter? b. Take them aside after?” (pictured left).
As part of the campaign free bystander training sessions are being offered to give people the confidence and skills to safely challenge misogyny and sexual harassment: Safe:Space Sussex - Bystander training (safespacesussex.org.uk)
The campaign has been promoted at train stations and supermarkets, on beermats in Wetherspoons and Harveys and buses and billboards around the county.
During the summer of 2021 the PCC ran a survey asking women and girls in the county if they felt unsafe, when and why they felt unsafe and what would help to make them feel safer.
Around 2,000 people responded and their answers demonstrated the desire for a scheme helping them find places of safety and an app to help vulnerable people. As a result development began on a new scheme and app, the Safe Space Sussex app.
Safe Space Sussex app
The Safe Space Sussex app has been developed for use by anyone who feels unsafe. The app is not designed for us in an emergency and users are prompted to call 999 if they are in an emergency situation when they first enter the app.
On first downloading the app users will be asked to enter their own name and phone number and the name and phone number for a preferred contact. They will then be directed to a map showing their location, and a number of red pins indicating Safe Spaces near them. Tapping on a safe space will show opening times and the option to see directions from their current location.
When they arrive at a Safe Space they can identify themselves to staff who will be able to offer them somewhere to wait and offer to call 999, 101 or a contact of their choice.
If the user wishes to share their location using the app they can do so using the alert button, which will allow them to send a text containing their location (both the address and the what3words) to their named contact.
Businesses across the county are invited to sign up as safe spaces which will see them offered basic training on what to do if someone comes in asking for help.
Stickers and posters will help to identify locations as safe spaces registered with the scheme and posters will also be displayed in staff areas to remind staff about the scheme and what to do if they are approached about it.
The app is expected to launch in early March.