A campaign has been launched to make Merseyside’s transport network safer for women and girls.
More than 50% of women surveyed by the Merseyside Police and Crime Commissioner’s (PCC) Office were identified as feeling unsafe using public transport in the region at night, with 42% uncomfortable during the day.
As a result, the PCC and Liverpool Council have launched an effort targeted at potential perpetrators of harassment and sexual violence on the region’s transport network, known as Safer Streets Liverpool.
It will highlight unacceptable behaviours such as touching, groping and stalking.
What is the Safer Streets Liverpool campaign?
The £270,000 scheme – funded by the Home Office – will enable enhanced CCTV coverage at city centre bus stations in Liverpool One, Queens Square and Sir Thomas Street, increased police and uniformed presence on the transport network, and a new text message service which can be used to report concerns and help to identify offenders.
An increased police and uniformed presence will be present on the transport network, while bus drivers and frontline bus station staff to receive ‘bystander training’ to better understand and know how to prevent sexual violence.
What’s been said
Emily Spurrell, Merseyside PCC, said following the murder of Miss Everard at the hands of a Metropolitan Police officer last year, the conversation around the safety of women and girls in public grew louder.
She said: “I think we saw in the aftermath of Sarah Everard last year that this is a real problem across the whole country.
“I did a survey last summer where they did and didn’t feel safe, what can we do to make them feel safer, and public transport came up a lot.
“We were keen to think about practically what we can do, so we’ve gone for a combination of education and raising awareness, but also reporting systems and infrastructure.”
Ms Spurrell said while the scheme has been launched in Liverpool city centre, there was a prevailing mood across the region in response to her study.
She said: “There was a consistent response across Merseyside, women were experiencing similar issues across the area.
“We are looking to see whether we can expand this across the region because it is something that is experienced across the board, but this felt like a sensible place to start the conversation.”
PCC urges men to play their part
The PCC added that men have a key role to play in making the project a success for Merseyside’s women and girls.
She said: “We absolutely want men to be a part of the solution to this, if you see your friends catcalling or jeering or touching them inappropriately, call it out.
“It’s very hard for an individual woman who may be on her own to feel like she can challenge that kind of behaviour so it’s really important men are willing to challenge that.
“It will likely be your friends or family members who are doing that so you have to be willing to stand up to it and say it’s not okay, it’s making women feel unsafe.
“We really want people to take ownership and help us spread the message and call it out when they see it.”