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United approach to protect women out at night in Liverpool

Multiple organisations across Liverpool are coming together to make sure women and girls are safe in the city at night.

Recent 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. 

In order to tackle the issues, 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.

United approach to protect women out at night in Liverpool

They are leading on initiatives which include:

  • A thought-provoking, visual campaign which reinforces 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 and nightclubs. 
  • 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.

In a commitment to make public transport safer, 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 which highlighted the real fear of sexual harassment and sexual violence, particularly when travelling in and out of the city centre at night.  The findings reflect the national picture, as in 2019/20 the Crime Survey of England and Wales found  69 per cent of women aged 16 and over said that they felt very or fairly safe walking alone after dark, in contrast to 89 per cent of men.

Mayor of Liverpool, Joanne Anderson, said:

“These are shocking statistics and 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.”

Lorraine Woods, Operations Manager at RASA Merseyside said: 

“Within the context of sexual assault, victim blaming is the term used to describe an attitude that suggests it is the victim rather than the perpetrator who bears responsibility. 

“It’s important to understand is that sexual violence is never, ever the fault of the person who experiences it. Sexual violence happens because someone chooses to use harmful behaviours, not because someone is wearing a certain item of clothing, said a certain thing, or was in a certain place.”

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.  

All Liverpool organisations and residents are encouraged to share and like social media information to raise awareness of these issues and highlight where to go for support if needed.

Key contacts:

https://www.know-means-no.co.uk/

https://www.rasamerseyside.org/ or call 0151 666 1392

In an emergency please contact 999

READ MORE: Child sexual abuse support services across Merseyside respond to BBC’s three-part series

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