Canterbury organisations have introduced several schemes to keep the city safe for the public, particularly women and girls, following a successful bid for more than £680,000 of Home Office Safer Streets funding.
The Safer Streets campaign aims to reduce violence against women and girls (VAWG) and make Canterbury a safe place for people to live, work and visit.
VAWG is an umbrella term encompassing acts of violence or abuse that disproportionately affect women and girls. Many groups can however be affected by these crimes, including men and boys, those who identify as LGBTQ+, Black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME), people with disabilities and others with additional needs.
Canterbury Community Safety Partnership and the Office of the Kent Police and Crime Commissioner have been working with several partners to deliver a range of projects through the Safer Streets campaign including:
- Best Bar None – supports licensed premises with tools such as StopTopps, drug testing strips, Ask for Angela cards and training for staff to identify sexual harassment or discrimination for the protection of all customers.
- The Safe Zone App – an app for residents, students, and visitors to seek help if required while in Canterbury
- CCTV – 32 extra cameras around the Parkwood area used by students and public
- Free VAWG training for businesses – East Kent Rape Crisis Centre and Rising Sun Domestic Violence and Abuse Service are providing free training to Canterbury businesses to help them identify VAWG in the community
- Additional Police Operations – extra police on the streets during the night-time economy hours on Friday and Saturday nights to address VAWG and ASB
- Zero Tolerance – a free accreditation scheme for licensed premises to show they are equipped to recognise and tackle sexual harassment and discrimination
- Street Pastors – volunteers patrolling the streets to support the reduction of VAWG
- Safe Havens – a network of safe places where people can seek assistance when feeling unsafe or threatened whilst in the city
- Research – evaluation of the work locally around tackling VAWG through academic studies and focus groups
- A new website saferstreetscanterbury.com with information about each project and contact details of the organisations offering support and advice for anyone who has experienced sexual violence or domestic abuse
Sergeant John Woodward, of Canterbury Community Safety Unit, said: ‘Tackling violence against women and girls is a key priority for Kent Police and we will use every avenue available to us to keep people safe.
‘This work is always best done in partnership with other organisations and the schemes developed in Canterbury show what can be achieved when a large range of partners work together to ensure the city is a safe and happy place to live, work and visit.’
Lacy Dixon, Senior Specialist Community Safety and Enforcement Manager, of Canterbury City Council said: “Many of the types of violence against women and girls (VAWG) cut across all social and demographic boundaries and have a profound and long-lasting impact on victims. These acts of violence have absolutely no place in our society.
“We aim to protect the whole community, particularly women and girls, from harm and support them in feeling safe when going about their daily lives whether that’s shopping, eating, drinking, socialising, studying, or enjoying the varied entertainment and nightlife venues that this vibrant city provides.
“Together the partnership, along with businesses within the city of Canterbury, will deliver education programmes that address behaviour that encourages negative attitudes.”