Call It Out survey: What you said – and what we’re doing

Public places that cause concern for women and girls in Cumbria are receiving renewed focus from police as officers continue to prioritise safety through patrols, partnership working and other preventative measures.

Officers have listened to the views of those who took part in an online survey on the issue of violence against women and girls – and their concerns are at the centre of efforts to deter offences.

Earlier this year Cumbria Constabulary ran the Call It Out survey online.

This was so the force could hear more from women and girls on how they felt about their own personal safety.

It sought opinion on topics including how women and girls felt in their own homes, neighbourhoods and towns. It included questions about personal experiences.

More than 2,480 people took part.

The data has since been analysed and it is now being used to better inform police services and work with partners.

Detective Inspector Matt Belshaw is the constabulary’s dedicated operational detective inspector overseeing work on this issue.

He said: “Violence against women and girls is unacceptable and everyone should be safe and feel safe, no matter where they are.

“We’re grateful to every one of the thousands of people who took part in our survey and all their views contributed to help us build a better picture of this issue.

“What we found was the areas that were already subject to our preventative measures and patrols were the key places highlighted in people’s concerns.

“I’m sure that should offer some reassurance to people that we are aware of the problem areas and measures are already in place.

“But it also highlighted some additions to our existing knowledge, for instance there might be mention of a path leading to a known area of concern that worries people, and our plans to prevent crime – including patrols and work with partners – will change to take these into account.

“At Cumbria Constabulary we have contempt for the act of criminality – it has no place in our communities.

“Just as importantly, we have compassion for victims. Both these aspects of our mission to keep Cumbria’s communities safe form the bedrock of our response to this issue.”

Some of the key findings from the survey:

  • The most frequent reason given for feeling unsafe was groups of people hanging around.
  • Women and girls were most likely to feel unsafe at night – and while out in public.
  • Nearly three in four respondents had experienced inappropriate behaviour or language.

The constabulary already carries out proactive patrols around pubs and clubs to target anyone who looks like they may be preying on vulnerable people out in our night-time economy.

A Safer Streets Welfare Hub is in place in Carlisle to support people on a night out, specifically vulnerable people – and plans are in place to roll this out in the west and south of the county and to use them at major events.

This involves work with partners, which is a key part of making people safe.

Funding to provide new safety measures

The data from Call it Out has helped focus bids for funding from the Home Office’s Safer Streets Funds, with a successful bid made by Cumbria’s Police, Fire and Crime Commissioner, Peter McCall, which is being used on a number of measures.

Support for these will follow in the form of staffing and funding from the constabulary, the Office for the Police, Fire and Crime Commissioner and local authorities.

The bids seek to tackle everything raised in Call It Out, from groups of people congregating, calls for improved lighting and more CCTV and tackling anti-social driving.

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Examples of work ongoing or planned with this funding:

The Line in Workington

In one example of this type of partnership, work is being carried out to make people feel safer at The Line in Workington – part of the Coast-to-Coast route.

Work being carried out on a section starting on Harrington Road through to Moorclose includes cutting back overgrown areas, upgrading paths, providing additional signage and removing graffiti and signs of substance abuse.

All of this is done with the intention of improving safety and making people feel safer.

Local school pupils will be designing new street art to cover the graffiti, with the theme of the art including safety of women and girls.

Hammond’s Pond in Carlisle

Work will be carried out to improve lighting in the park to improve feelings of safety and deter crime and anti-social behaviour.

Penrith town centre

Funding will be spent on reducing anti-social behaviour, which can increase concerns on the issue of violence against women and girls.

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DI Belshaw added all neighbourhood policing team leaders are held accountable to tackle the issues raised in the Call It Out campaign.

They are obliged to update the work they have been given at meetings attended by all operational leaders.

DI Belshaw said: “This survey has been vital in confirming we are responding in the right areas and that we are aware of the places and issues that cause concern.

“Where there has been an area highlighted that differs from where we currently focus, we are responding accordingly thanks to the Call It Out data.

“New areas of concern have also been raised, for example in some outlying areas of our major towns, such as Cleator Moor, and some areas of Kendal.

“In terms of providing reassurance to those out at night, we continue to run Operation Vigilant and Operation Regulate.

“These are uniformed street patrol campaigns to deter potential opportunistic offenders out at night in the areas around our pubs and clubs.

“Specialist training has been given to officers on night shifts in urban areas and this provides them with key identifying markers for potential perpetrators targeting vulnerable people.”

Cumbria’s Police, Fire and Crime Commissioner, Peter McCall, said: “Violence against women and girls is a priority here in Cumbria as we want to ensure everyone feels safe in our communities whether they live, work, or visit the county.

“By listening to the views of women and girls in the county and to their experiences we can more effectively look at solutions to aim to create a county where this type of violence is less opportunistic and therefore help women and girls feel safer in their community.

“With funding from the Home Office’s Safer Streets, simple remedies such as cutting back on greenery and adding or upgrading streetlighting can make areas feel safer.

“Violence against anyone is unacceptable, but we understand that women and girls are more likely to experience it in day-to-day life, which is why we are adamant to put an end to it.

“It simply will not be tolerated in Cumbria and I would like to urge anyone who has experienced this type of violence to please report it to the Police on 101 or 999 in an emergency.

“Everyone has the right to feel safe on our streets.”

HOW DO I REPORT CONCERNS ON THESE ISSUES TO POLICE?

If you wish to report to police you can do so online at www.cumbria.police.uk/report-it.

You can also phone on 101.

Always phone 999 in an emergency or if a crime is in progress.

Alternatively, you can contact Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.

SUPPORT SERVICES IN CUMBRIA

A round-up of services across Cumbria is available here: Victim Services Archive – Cumbria Police and Crime Commissioner (cumbria-pcc.gov.uk)


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