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Your safety is our priority – a message to Harlow women as bars and pubs reopen for indoor service

Lifestyle / Fri 21st May 2021 at 08:05am

NO one should feel unsafe on a night out in our town centres is the message from the County Council and the Police, Fire and Crime Commissioner ahead of the first ‘indoors’ weekend of the night-time economy reopening.

Essex County Council and the Police, Fire and Crime Commissioner for Essex (PFCC) are renewing their commitment to women’s safety before the first weekend of bars, pubs and restaurants being open for indoor service.

Their message is that they are listening, understanding and committing to creating an environment where women feel safe.

The feelings experienced by many women were highlighted following the murder of Sarah Everard in March 2021, exposing the fears that many women experience and sparking an important debate about women’s safety.

In Essex, Essex County Council pledged £500,000 to fund a Safety Advisory Group which launched in April 2021. The group, led by Council Deputy Leader Cllr Louise McKinlay aims to encourage meaningful engagement with Essex women and spark a countywide conversation about the issues and fears faced by many women on a daily basis. The group will talk to partners, residents and council officials to ensure everyone is working together to tackle safety concerns, in particular those of female residents.

Ahead of this weekend, the PFCC and county council have reassured women across the county that Essex is a safe place, with the police, local community safety partnerships, volunteers such as the street pastors, and SOS buses all working to make town centres safe environments.

Cllr Louise McKinlay, Deputy Leader of Essex County Council and Cabinet Member for Community, Equality, Partnerships and Performance, said: “No woman should feel fearful on an evening out. Everyone should be able to enjoy a pub, bar or restaurant and travelling to and from them without feeling anxious about safety.

“This is the reason we set up our Safety Advisory Group, to explore the issues around women’s safety, and work with partners and residents to achieve positive change.

“It is also important that consideration is given to how actions can be perceived by women who may be feeling anxious or vulnerable. Even something completely innocent might make a lone female feel frightened, so something simple like walking a few more paces behind or crossing the road will make a big difference.

“We have an excellent police service in Essex as well as volunteers and organisations that will be out and about keeping you safe.

“There are also some really simple precautions we can all take to make ourselves safer like making sure our phones are fully charged, sticking with a friend when walking and if drinking making sure you don’t leave your drink unattended, Essex Police also have some excellent advice on their website here.”

Roger Hirst, Police, Fire and Crime Commissioner for Essex, said: “Over the past year we have all been looking out for each other and we have been following the #StaySafeEssex message. Let’s make sure we continue to do that as we enjoy meeting up with friends indoors this weekend as our night-time economy reopens.

“I know our local community safety partnerships, businesses and volunteers such as the street pastors, and SOS buses who we help to fund, will be doing everything they can to make it a safe and successful reopening but let’s make sure we do everything we can to keep each other safe.

“The tragic death of Sarah Everard earlier this year and the public debate that followed brought into sharp focus the fear that many women feel when they are out at night. It is totally unacceptable for women to feel fearful in our communities and it is for all of us to change this. We need to create an environment where women aren’t fearful. We need to look after each other particularly women who may be feeling concerned and vulnerable.

“If you are planning on going out this weekend make sure you look after each other, know how you are getting home, drink sensibly and continue with the incredible community spirit that everybody has shown over the last year. Let’s take this next step safely together.”

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