Devon and Cornwall receive a share of £23.5m to tackle violence against women

Laura White
Laura White
Alison Hernandez – DCC Police and Crime Commissioner

Two areas in Devon and Cornwall have received a share of £23.5m to help prevent violence against women and girls (VAWG).

Plymouth has been awarded £512,000 from the Government’s Safer Streets fund, while Falmouth in Cornwall has received more than £33,000.

The successful bids were announced on 3rd October, after submissions were made by Plymouth City Council and Cornwall Council supported by the Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner (OPCC).

In Plymouth, the money will be used to improve public links back to the city’s CCTV control room. It will also pay for five new CCTV cameras to be installed, as well as enhancements to street lighting in the city centre.

On top of these physical upgrades, the funding will also support numerous education and awareness schemes within the city including Bystander Awareness Training for people working in the night-time economy, education in schools and a Sex Worker Outreach project.

The money will also support graffiti clean-ups and mural paintings in Mutley and Stonehouse as well as supporting the existing street pastor scheme.

In Falmouth the funding will pay for the installation of six new CCTV cameras in the town centre. It will also be used to support a student-led VAWG group to run awareness campaigns or projects, as well as bystander training for staff employed in the night-time economy.

These latest bids follow previous successful submissions to the Safer Streets Fund for the Stonehouse area of Plymouth (£546,000) and Exeter City Centre (£432,000).

Created with the objective of tackling local acquisitive crimes like car theft and burglary, the latest round of the Safer Streets Fund has a particular emphasis on the safety of women and girls.

Alison Hernandez, Police and Crime Commissioner for Devon, Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly, said: “We’re building on the success of our efforts with Government to attract extra resources that help people feel safe on our streets.
‘This is focused particularly on women and girls but will reduce crime and help everyone feel safer in Plymouth and Falmouth.

‘We’ve worked in close collaboration with local councils in these areas to devise the successful bids and I know they are going to make a big difference.”

Plymouth City Council leader Nick Kelly said: “No woman should feel afraid to walk around the streets where they live. We know there is some way to go before women and girls feel safe, but we hope that this funding will lead to real and lasting change.

‘There are things we as a city can do from physical interventions such as CCTV cameras and improved street lighting.

‘There are also things we will be asking others to help with such as targeted prevention activity – crucial training for public transport staff, taxi drivers and bar staff to recognise and safely respond to problem attitudes and behaviour linked with violence against women crimes.

‘There’s a lot to do but I am really grateful for this Home Office funding to make some real inroads into keeping our residents safer.”

Cllr Carol Mould, Cornwall Council’s portfolio holder for neighbourhoods, said: “At a time when the safety of women and girls on our streets is in such sharp focus, this successful bid to the Government’s Safer Streets Fund is fantastic news for Falmouth.

‘I look forward to working with our partners to ensure that this investment creates a lasting legacy and helps increase women and girls’ feelings of safety in our public spaces.”

Since its inception, the Government has committed £70 million to the Safer Streets Fund to support local areas across England and Wales to introduce initiatives aimed at stopping offences happening in the first place.

Last month the Home Office and National Police Chiefs’ Council (NPCC) launched StreetSafe, an online mapping tool that allows all members of the public to flag areas where they don’t feel safe and say why.

Primarily, but not exclusively aimed at women and girls, the data collected from StreetSafe will allow police to understand specific concerns and use the information to make decisions on safety in the area.

The Police and Crime Commissioner for Devon, Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly is urging residents of the force area to take a few minutes to let police know where and why they feel unsafe.

Commissioner Alison Hernandez said data gathered by the tool would prove extremely useful to identify areas where additional resources such as street lighting, CCTV and high visibility policing might reassure people and deter criminals.

“The tragic cases of Sarah Everard and locally, Lorraine Cox, have thrust the issue of safety in public spaces to the front of the national agenda,” she said.

“Everyone has the right to feel safe in public, wherever they are and whatever time of day they choose to go out. Sadly, too many people, both men and women, still feel unsafe and threatened.

‘Information gathered through initiatives like the StreetSafe tool really enable us to make informed decisions to improve our public spaces and deliver better services.

‘I am urging residents of Devon, Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly to take a minute or so to tell us where they feel unsafe by visiting”

Areas may be reported due to environmental issues such as street lighting, abandoned buildings or vandalism and/or because of some behaviours, like people being followed or verbally abused.

The interactive map will be available on the national policing website for two more months while the pilot takes place.

Police are urging residents to remember that the new pilot scheme is not intended as an alternative for reporting serious incidents and will allow people to raise concerns with the police regardless of whether a crime has been committed.

Anyone in immediate danger should call 999, or report any non-emergency crimes online or via 101.

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